Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Lighting Church Candles

Where do we draw the line between symbolism in worship and worshiping symbols?
That is not an easy line to draw.

When I went to a Methodist church as a child, we not only lit candles during the service, but we had the older children serve as acolytes (candle lighters). The church I go to now has candles on the altar, but I have yet to see them lit in the 3+ years I have gone there.

Why are the candles and their light significant?
God created light & darkness.
Jesus is the light of the world. (The two candlesticks remind us that Jesus was fully God & fully man.)
During Pentecost, the Holy Spirit revealed itself as flames on the disciples.

Growing up, I was taught that lighting the candles at the start of the church service symbolized the Spirit residing in our service. Acolytes carried the candlelight outside of the sanctuary at the end to symbolize the light going into the world.

Traditions aren't valid or stupid just because a previous generation practiced them or refused to acknowledge them. The meaning of & symbolism of different traditions are good things to remember. It's wonderful to discuss traditions. Questions about traditions aren't a bad thing to be asked (even if I don't immediately know the answer). It's alright to look up answers, research together, or get back to someone. And who knows, maybe my view of my religion will deepen as symbols take on meaning.

You can read more detailed explanations at Symbolism of Candles-Catholics and Lighting & Extinguishing Candles-Methodists.

Does your church light candles? What is their reason for or against it?

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