Week 2 Friday

More Than Candles

Today’s scripture selection: Isaiah 7-11

Key verses: Isaiah 9:2

Each year at our church there is one evening to which I look forward like none other – Christmas Eve.  Nestled out in the countryside, on that magical night, our little white church shines brightly.  Why?  Because like so many other congregations we gather to light small, handheld candles, and sing “Silent Night.”  Easter is wonderful; Fall Festivals are fun; but Christmas Eve is like no other time.  Regardless of what has happened during the year past, that night, all is calm; all is bright, just like the hymn says.

But there is another time – just a few weeks before – that I also love to see coming.  It is that Sunday in the season of Advent when we hear the scripture’s promise once again,

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”

There is something just undeniably hopeful about those words.  Once spoken to a nation surrounded by enemies bent on destroying it, the words were picked up and quoted centuries later, to a people in another kind of darkness.  And, they have been repeated again and again – comforting any who find themselves groping around in their own dark times.

Isn’t it wonderful that such reassurance isn’t limited to just once at year, at Advent or Christmas?  The fact is that any time we feel that the darkness is winning; that our way is obscured – God wants us to remember that to Him, even the darkness is as light.  Why?  Because the light that illumines our lives is so much more than mere candlelight.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Candles are lovely things.  And it gives us a warm, secure feeling to surround ourselves with candlelight and sing about silent and holy nights.  But our real comfort comes from the fact that after the worship service is over, and the candles are put out and put away until next year – the light of Christ goes with us.  And nothing can put out His light.

Prayer:  Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace – thank you for how you bring unquenchable light into any darkness I might face.  Help me to bring some of that light, in Your name, to someone who needs it today.   AMEN.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. “Elpis” is the Greek word for “expectant hope.” He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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