Our Savior's Shared Journey
If you read last month’s encouragement, you may recognize the title above; but it has been edited slightly. Strong-er!
If you read last month’s encouragement, you may have an inkling about what this encouragement will entail…
Come on Sundays and observe carefully the way things are happening this summer to help us all be stronger in our love and service of Jesus.
For example, when there is a Baptism, you may notice that the big candle (the “Paschal” candle; referring to the promise of the Resurrection in Jesus, who is called the “Paschal Lamb”) will be lit. For many years, that candle was up front in the sanctuary and lit for every service. This past Lent, it was removed as a part of our meditation on the sacrifice of Jesus in the weeks leading up to Holy Week. It has been burning every worship assembly during the season of Easter (now concluded) and for Pentecost Sunday and Holy Trinity Sunday, as a reminder of Jesus’ place in those celebrations. However, now during the season of Pentecost the candle will not be lit unless there is a Baptism. For Baptisms, it serves as a reminder of the promise of Jesus in that sacrament. The rest of the time, it will be an un-lit presence in our worship assembly, reminding us that the stories of Jesus we will hear bring a different kind of “stronger” to our lives.
You may note another candle, burning every week in Our Savior’s worship space. In fact, it burns all the time, red for the Holy Spirit, suspended above us, hovering like that Spirit, a promise of the strength the Spirit offers all- the- time. In Our Savior’s sanctuary it is called the “eternal candle” and serves as an ever-present reminder of the promise of God’s Spirit flowing ever stronger into our lives, 24/7/365.4. When the Pre School students gather in the Chapel for Chapel Services twice a week, we remember that “God is here” as we light one of the candles on the altar in the Chapel. In Our Savior’s sanctuary, the red “eternal” candle brings reminder of that same stronger promise.
Two other candles burn upon the altar each week. Some churches have multiple candles (3 or 5, or 7) on each side of their altars. They are lit as worship begins, drawing our focus to the altar, to the Sacrament of Holy Communion waiting in bread and wine upon that Holy table. The two also are a reminder of the dual nature of Jesus; human and divine. They can also remind the worshipper of the two kinds of Bible readings “Epistle” and “Gospel.” The visual is meant to make us all stronger in spirit and truth; calling us to both Word and Sacrament. The candles are extinguished at the end of worship as a symbolic transfer of the light of God from sanctuary, through worshippers’ lives, out into the world.
All the candle flames are designed to shed light on part of what worship is offering: making the worshipper stronger. Worship is also the people of God gathered to give God glory, and the candles are symbolic of that glory. In it all,
I am on that journey with you!