Have you ever sat and watched a candle as it burns?
Have you watched the way the flame stands up straight, reaching upwards, stretching continually for what is above?
Have you looked for its bright centre, the warm pool of wax feeding it beneath, the heat around it that makes the air flicker and ripple?
If you have a little while to stop and focus on a lit candle, then I would urge to try it.
Strangely it helps to focus you away from the world around us and the hundred and one things running around our heads if we let it.
It reminds us of the image of Christ as Light of the World. A light that the darkness can never put out. A Light for all nations.
But consider too the fragile light we have in our candle flame as we watch it.
The heat is soothing and as we gently move towards it, we feel the gentle warmth and know the reach of it and how tender it can be.
The warmth of someone’s faith might encourage us to be curious about the fuel that feeds their flame, but if it gets too hot we might be put off.
The light in someone’s life might make us curious to how that light brightens the world around them, but too bright and it blinds.
And consider too the fragile nature of our candle flame that twists and wavers when the air changes and a breeze passes over it.
There is a momentary speed to regain strength and balance, a short-lived struggle to stand tall again and light the way.
As the world blows around us, as others huff and puff, as doors are slammed so our tiny flame takes a moment to centre itself in order to burn bright again.
With our candle we might cup our hands around it to take it on a journey.
We might place it out of harms way and where the light can shine brightly for all to marvel in its brilliance.
We celebrate with it, encourage it and keep it safe.
How then do we safeguard those around us who flicker and falter and need to be encouraged, nurtured and celebrated for their brilliance?
How do place them out of harms way, feed them with things that make them burn brighter and stronger, protect them from the winds of worry?
And when that light grows dim and the shadows lengthen, the light feels small and the shadows make us fearful.
We might gather our lights around them to show strength and chase the shadows away.
We shine together until the day comes and the darkness passes.
There are many places in scripture where God is seen as the light.
There are other places where we are described as God’s children shining God’s light.
We have a duty and a joy to help others shine as much as we would like to shine.
And we have a responsibility and a role in making sure others don’t extinguish the Light in others.
May this candle be the Light for you to enlighten me Lord God.
Help me to shine your light and help others shine too.
May it be the fire that feeds my love for you and others.
Help me to encourage and show kindness to all I meet.
May it bring warmth to my heart and those around me.
Help me when my light feels weak.
We have been given the Light of Christ,
Let us walk in this Light all the days of our lives. Amen.
Take care and keep shining.