Caroline Noll, Associate Pastor and Pastor for Children and Families

I have led acolyte training with older elementary children in our congregation for many years. A big part of it is helping them see and claim the work they are a part of in worship.

Their main task is not to light and extinguish the candles. Rather they remind us that Christ is with us in the world.

They bring the light of Christ into the worship space to help us remember and know that God is with us as we worship.

And they remind us that the light of Christ goes before us as we go back out into the world.

This Advent we are including a different element. At the end of the service we change the light.

This fall I was about to begin that portion of the training. This particular group of acolytes was fascinated with the mechanics of the candle lighter and its snuffer.

We were at the table with the candles lit, practicing how we close the service, and I was modeling for them how to hold the candle lighter.

I said, “and during the closing hymn, you come, light your candle lighter from the candle first, and then … “

And a dear new acolyte chimed in and said, “we change the light!” 

I beamed. She said it perfectly.

Here in the sanctuary, I didn’t have to explain any abstract symbolic language about light and God’s presence. I didn’t have to try to crack open a sliver of her mind to convince her that she’s not just lighting a candle. She knew!

She sees that candle every Sunday and knows it’s the light of Christ.

She sees the light being carried out every Sunday, sees the wisps of smoke from the candles on our worship table, and knows that the light has changed, and now everywhere she goes she is near the light of Christ.

You see, when the candles are lit, it’s very easy to see the light. It’s all in one place.

When we change the light, we can immediately see the wisps of smoke. The light has changed.

Then then the wisps rise higher and spread thinner, and it seems as if they are gone.

But the light is not gone. It has changed. It spreads out to reach every space.

The light of Christ is with us, is with you, is with our world.

Sometimes it is difficult to see. Sometimes we forget it is there. May you always know the joy and hope of the light of Christ.

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