This last Christmas at 8 p.m. at Central we all lit candles and sang Silent Night. I am always careful to announce clearly at the beginning of the service for people to light their candles (and nothing else) then blow them out after the hymn is finished. It is beautiful moment. The glow of the candle light on Christmas Eve, the voices of a congregtion singing the carol.
This particular year, I had met a family just arrived in Canada a few weeks earlier, and they had come for the service. Brand new to Canada, from a country of another language and climate and culture. And here they were Christmas Eve. One member was a child of about 10. When Silent night began, we all lit our candles; when it was over we blew them and continued to the end of the service.
As I walked to the back after the benediction, something caught my eye.
Everyone had put down their candles, blown-out, resting on pews. But as I walked by this 10 year-old, new to Canada, they sat in the pew with their candle still lit, staring into it. The candle light reflected on their face. It was a moment when I wanted to stop, and say something – like welcome to Canada, or Merry Christmas the Lord bless you.
But I didn’t stop; there was this simply look in their eyes – that it was a holy moment. One in which I am glad she lingered.
“Then he said, ‘Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.'” Exodus 3:5