A New Christ Candle by Robynn
A New Year
As you might remember each year when Christmas is over and the tree is dragged down the street to where the dead trees go (to become fish habitat in streams or mulch for gardens) and the ornaments are wrapped in tissue paper and put back in their boxes, I deliberately keep out my Christ candle.
I light it when the worries are too consuming and I need to remember that Christ is here. I light it when the world is in shambles— I light it when my friends are hurting. I light my Christ candle when I fear for my own children. I light it for myself too. Sometimes the sorrow is too great. Sometimes the sadness threatens to steal all joy. Sometimes my own weaknesses, my own sins, my own selfishness consume me. Sometimes I worry, I fret, I fear. Anxiety and panic dance on the edges of my sanity. I light it then. I deliberately recollect that Jesus is very near, he is Emmanuel, God with us. The waiting is over. I can breathe. I can trust. I can rest. The flickering flame repeats these seemingly fragile truths back to my knowingly fragile soul and I am comforted.
2014 gave me plenty of opportunity to keep my Christ Candle lit. It was a difficult year from start to finish: from sickness to death, from pain in our family to pain in the world, from Colorado street to Houston street, from January to December. On many many days when it all seemed too much I would light my candle and bring to mind the nearness of Christ.
But last week, in a stolen quiet moment on Christmas morning, I lit the new waxed-over wick. I felt hope and relief. His mercies were new for Christmas morning. Flickerings of joy were fanned in me. The wait was over. Christ is here.
I’ll leave this candle out this year too. It serves as a reminder that while the wait is over we keep on watching. When 2015 overwhelms, as 2013 and 2014 have each done, I’ll light the candle again and remember Christ’s proximity, his presence.
It is time for 2014 to be done. It nearly was my undoing. There were so many challenges and changes; sorrows and sadnesses. I’m burying 2014 under the deep white snow of redemption. Covered. Blanketed. It’s boxed and labeled and put in the basement for storage. My Christ candle lasted through each season. The reassuring flame burned all year long. But I’m ever so ready for a fresh year, a new candle, a new dose of grace and hope and purpose. It’s time.
Christ came for years like 2014. Christ came for our sorrows. Christ came for my children’s disappointments. Christ came for quiet morning moments and for loud evening celebrations. He came to bring us to the Father who loves us well. We lift our hearts to him. Hearts full of 2014’s residual griefs — Ferguson, Syria, Peshawar, Christmas week tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, funerals, fallen families, break ups, brokenness. We move into this new year with trepidation. We choose faith in the face of fear. We choose forgiveness instead of bitterness. We choose love in the face of resentment and hatred.
With a new year comes new hope, new grace, new opportunities, new chances to choose joy. The new year brings new purpose, new lessons, new manna, new narratives, new stories. We can pray new prayers. We can try our hand at new things. We can enter new habits. We can find new peace in our new troubles, new hope in our new distresses, new joys in the midst of our new sorrows.
The old has gone, the new is here!
“But forget all that—Forget about what’s happened;
don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present.
it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
For I am about to do something new….something brand-new!
See, I have already begun! It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
There it is! I’m making a road through the desert,
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland,
rivers in the badlands.
(Isaiah 43:18-19 NLT&The Message)