When I was a little boy it was often pointed out to me that I loved fire way too much. The great thing about fire is it comes in so many forms and has a bit of danger associated to it. Firecrackers, camp fires, sterno, WD40, candles, torches, magnifying glasses, electricity...
If we were honest with ourselves, everyone has a sense of awe when fire sparks up. If it is as small and whimsical as a zippo or crazy and uncontrollable as burning oil fields - it always gets your attention.
Something in you respects and marvels at fire. Despite all our technological advancements, few have been as world-changing as manipulating flames.
Fire allows you to destroy. It also allows you to illuminate. It provides power, security, and a bit of excitement as well. Yes, it can kill you.
Now that I've waxed all poetic about fire, let me get to my point: in Christmas (and several holidays, actually) there is this Christian tradition of lighting the Advent Wreath to prepare for Christ's coming. There are plenty of rituals in the church that involve candles.
I've been thinking about the implications of lighting candles. It seems awful archaic, dangerous, and completely unnecessary. But through our candles we reconnect with something much deeper than some kind of light source. The candles we light represent things. They are symbolic. And I think within each of us they stir a connection with a time when candles were much more than decoration. it would be extremely gaudy and just poor taste if candles used in worship were "fake" - some kind of false flame.
Candles are little fires...and they still excite me. When we light the advent wreath in its completeness this Christmas Eve, I'll dwell on it for just a moment. But when I do, I'll appreciate where we have come from and just how far God will go to bring us back. A light in the darkness of this world still burns brightly. It won't be snuffed out.