“Preparing Our Hearts and Homes – Our Advent Journey”

“Preparing Our Hearts and Homes – Our Advent Journey”
Midweek Advent Series
“The Lighting of the Candles”
December 5, 2018

Sermon Text: John 8:2-19

Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

There is something about evening time. As darkness comes over the land, so does peace and quiet… at least significantly more so than during the hustle and bustle of the day… the workday or school day.

With the sun now setting very early, we see lights going on much earlier – street lights, car lights, home lights and, of course, Christmas lights. And although much progress has been made in the way of artificial lighting in making it appealing, it simply does not “hold a candle” to natural firelight… candlelight… with its warm glow.

We in the Christian Church certainly know about candlelight. It has been used in worship for thousands of years. And for good reason. Make no mistake about it… the use of candles… the lighting of candles… was not the idea of man. Its importance and symbolitry were not either. They are divinely prescribed and used.

In explaining about the Kingdom of God, our Lord makes use of many simple, ordinary elements… earthly elements… giving them divine meaning and import. Take for example – water, wine, bread, yeast, seeds… and the list goes on.

Indeed, the list includes light and darkness. Christ our Savior declares, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Although darkness can be peaceful, it can also be very disconcerting… dangerous and deadly.  Such is the spiritual darkness which once covered us… the darkness of sin which still blankets much of the world and most people in it, including many of our own family members, friends, co-workers, fellow students and other acquaintances.

What these people do not realize is that the path they continue on in the darkness leads to certain death and destruction. For you see, the road they are on ends… it just stops and there is this bottomless black abyss that will swallow them and all unbelievers… all the unfaithful.

They haven’t a clue of what is coming… what awaits them. They are very much in the dark about it all. That is why they are not worried, but rather happy and content (sort of) because, in the darkness, they think nobody sees, nobody knows, nobody is keeping record. Right now, all is good and going well. How sad! How tragic.

We, however, dear friends… know differently. Why? Because we have been “enlightened” and continue to be enlightened by the Word of God. Through this Word… His Word… God’s Word… we know of the wide and well trodden path that leads to destruction. And we know how the Lord in holy baptism has graciously set us on a different course… a different path.

He has set our feet firmly on the path of righteousness which leads not to  death but eternal life… not to hell, but to heaven. And this path… this course… although narrow… is nevertheless well lit. And Christ is the light, our light… the very Light of life.

So it is that in our homes and in our church sanctuaries we light candles. And no, it is not for the ambiance or for aesthetics. This is not a fashion statement. With each candle lit, we remember Who is our pure light, holy light. It is Christ Jesus who, in coming to earth, pierced the darkness and sent it retreating… fleeing. The pure light of Christ which has chased away the shades of night… the shades of spiritual darkness and death.

This Light is your Light… my Light. It is Jesus… He is ours and we are His… He who came to earth to save us and make us His own.

This wonderful truth, really puts candlelight into perspective and why it is part of our Advent preparations as seen most poignantly in the Advent wreath and also in the evening prayer candle. These candlelights and all of our Advent preparations mean something. They are not just generic holiday decorations.

The wonderful lighting of the candles – we see their brightness, glory and glow and we cannot help but think of our Savior. How the brightness of His glory flooded the night… that holy night He was born.

And we rejoice that such brightness continues for us to this very day… in this, holy place… in this, His Holy Word… and in our holy hearts, made so by the One who is the Light of the world.

You know, many of us, when we were young, had night lights in our bedrooms. Some of us still do, but that is another story… or is it?  That light gave us peace and reassured us that all was well… that everything was alright. With it burning bright, we felt safe and secure.

How much more… infinitely more… does Christ the Light offer these things to us?

Our Advent preparations… they include the lighting of the candles which always, without fail… put our minds and very souls at ease. They always, without fail… bring a smile to our faces and set our hearts aglow.

Christ has come. Darkness no longer has dominion over us. It no longer terrifies, for we live in the light of our Savior now… and forevermore. Amen.

May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.

“The Lighting of the Candles”

12/5/18  The Rev. Mark H. Hein

St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL