Merry Christmas! I will be taking the next week off and trying my hardest to stay off-line, not only to spend time with my family but also to finish a couple of projects that need to be done before the new year. Before I leave I wanted to share one of my favorite Christmas stories with all of you. Let this story inspire you and bring light into your world between now and the New Year.
As some of you may know, my mother was a minister. My favorite time of year to watch her at the pulpit was Christmas. Mom loved Christmas — everything about Christmas. Trimming the tree, caroling, and the sermons she would share throughout the season. Her favorite, however, was the candle-lighting service held Christmas Eve at our church. My mother did not create the service – that was done prior to her becoming the faith leader at the church. But she did take the service to a special place, treating it as though it was the sacrament of communion. Indeed this service was a communion in light. Simple, elegant, and inspirational.
About 5 years or so before she died, I asked my mom to share the service with me so that I, in my home or wherever I am, could celebrate the way I remembered celebrating as a child. Now many churches do candle-lighting services of one form or another. What I loved about this one was the colors she used for each candle and for the symbolism she presented through the service. It’s that symbolism that I want to share with you today.
My mom believed deeply in the story of the Nativity, holding each member of that sacred scene in a position of honor. What you see below is a representation of how she viewed each character and what they symbolized in the story of the Nativity.
Candles were set up on an altar with a tall, white taper in the center to represent the Christ.
To the left were three smaller tapers as follows — red to represent Mary and the purity of her divine love; yellow to represent Joseph and the highest of divine wisdom; blue to represent the shepherds and the innocence of a child. To the right of the tall white taper were another group of three smaller tapers — green to represent Melchior, the first of the three wise men. His was the gift of gold to represent the prosperity of spirit; orange to represent Gaspar, the second wise man. His gift was frankincense to represent the purest and deepest devotion; the last candle was purple to represent Balthezar the last of the wise men. He gave myrrh and the candle represents the gift of healing.
In this candle-lighting service, parishioners were asked to pick a candle and light it from any (or many) of the seven candles focusing on those attributes that you wanted to work on and pray on in the upcoming year.
I always remember this service as setting the tone for my new year. Music was played, usually by one of the harpist from the LA Philharmonic who just happened to be parishioners. It was a breathtaking service and when mom gave me permission to replicate that service in our home a guaranteed that one of my favorite traditions would continue.
Now that my children are growing up and beginning to leave the home, I know the time will come when I can pass this tradition on to them.
It is my hope that if the symbolic meaning of the Nativity and what this candle-lighting service can truly represent has meaning to you that you share it. Replicate it for yourselves and hold the meaning of Christmas and the season of light in your heart.
Blessings to you and your family. May you all have a happy and healthy New Year.
I have exciting things to bring to you in 2015 including six new books before we hit summer! Until then, enjoy all that this season has to bring.