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Scripture: John 1:1-14 
OK, we have light switches, light fixtures everywhere in our sanctuaries. We normally meet on Sunday mornings when the morning light is streaming through our windows. So why, candles?
To be honest, to explain the use of candles in worship is going take us all over the place.
First, I think there was a practical original use of candles in worship dating back to Judaism. It is called no electricity. For Christians that practicality became uncomfortably real in the midst of Roman persecution when they had to gather in secret in the catacombs to worship. The catacombs are miles of underground burial tunnels. I have toured them, and you can still see skeletal remains wedged in carved out spots in the walls. Imagine gathering with other Christians late Sunday evenings with skeletal remains all around you, hiding deep in the bowels of Rome, fearing you may be caught, tortured and killed. And you meet… by candle light.
Second, the use of candles is a tradition within Jewish worship. In Judaism candles are still lit prior to every Shabbat in a homes or synagogue before sunset on Friday evening. At the end of Shabbat sundown on Saturday, a special braided Havdalah candle is lit, in which the candle represents the first work of the new week.
In the temple a lamp-stand is described in Exodus 25:31 -40; 37:17-24 and may be seen represented on the Arch of Titus at Rome. It was among the spoils taken by the Romans from the temple of Jerusalem (A.D. 70). It was made of fine gold.
Around Christmas time, the Jews celebrate Hanukkah remembering the Maccabean revolt against the Secludes, the rededication of the temple and the miracle of oil for candle light. Hanukkah is also called the Festival of Lights. A special candle holder called a menorah is used during the days of Hanukkah.
Christianity coming from Judaism simply continues the tradition of using candle light as part of our worship.
Lastly, (and I think the most importantly) we light candles for theological reasons. Our Lord Jesus proclaims, “I am the light of the world!” Jesus tells us, “Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and praise your Father in Heaven.” Jesus says to us, “you are the light of the world, don’t hide that light under a basket but rather put it on a stand so the whole house can see.”
Candles also remind us of what is to come; Revelation 22:5 “There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.
Are candles necessary for worship? Probably not from a practical standpoint, but they certainly can add to worship with an understanding of their symbolism and theological background.
The Seven Questions:
1. Talk about your experiences with candlelight.
2. Talk about darkness and candlelight and how they interact. Could there be a connection with Jesus and sin? If so, what might it be?
3. Have you ever sung Silent Night at a candlelight service? What was it like?
4. Often in a sanctuary will be a candle in a red glass covering. Do you know what it is called? What do you think it symbolizes? If you don’t know the answer, phone a friend!
5. Often in a sanctuary will be a tall large white candle. Our tradition is to light that candle only when there is a baptism or a funeral. What do you think such a candle might symbolize?
6. How might we let God’s light shine through us to others?
7. In what ways have you hidden God’s light under a basket in your life?
Mission Focus:
Think of ways God is calling you to let his light shine through you in your family, neighborhood, church or other sphere of influence. And then… prayerfully engage!
Your Thoughts: