“You shall command the people of Israel that they bring to you pure beaten olive oil for the light, that a lamp may regularly be set up to burn. In the tent of meeting, outside the veil that is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall tend it from evening to morning before the Lord. It shall be a statute forever to be observed throughout their generations by the people of Israel." Exodus 27:20-21
Light in worship has always had meaning for God’s people. The sanctuary lights are lit whenever God’s people gather. Light in worship has always had meaning for the faithful. From Old Testament times when the Lord commanded that a lamp be regularly set up to burn, then on into the early church. Our sanctuary at night glows with the red warmth of the “eternal light,” a candle also called a chancel lamp that is burned regularly in many churches. No matter the darkness of the sanctuary it still shines on and on until we gather again beneath its flickering light! I’ve always appreciated its beauty but more than that, it’s meaning.
In worship candle light not only brings warmth and beauty to our gathering but this candle that is never extinguished represents prayer and the presence of our Savior. In one ancient collect we pray, “We ask you to lighten the darkness of our hearts by your gracious visitation…” Jesus’ visitation of grace for our world and our lives scatters the thick darkness of sin around us. Peter describes our lives of faith as being called out of darkness into his marvelous light. This is a daily event that the Lord does in all our lives of faith.
So, as we gather to celebrate the light of Christ we receive his word, which is a lamp unto our feet and light to our path. No matter the darkness of this world or the darkness of our own lives our Lord’s light of salvation still shines for us, burning ever so brightly until the day we finally bask in his eternal light to come!