Click for audio: CANDLE LIGHTING SERVICE
Tonight we are here to celebrate two births. The first is the traditional birth of Jesus of Nazareth which took place nearly two-thousand years ago. From the perspective of western civilization, this was undoubtedly one of the most significant and influential events ever to occur.
It is probably true that no man, before or since Jesus, has had a greater impact upon the thought stream of the human race. There are many views of who and what He was. He has been hailed as being everything from the greatest of prophets to the complete incarnation of God. Millions have found new hope and new life in the pursuit of seeking to understand and follow His teachings and example.
He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” As we ponder these words, and seek in the quiet of our own minds and hearts to distill the essence of their meaning, we hear them echoed from somewhere deep in our midst. The evolution of our spiritual thought guides us into the unsounded depths of our divine potential, and we find that it is this essence to which Jesus was giving voice.
And so we are brought to the second birth that I mentioned. This is the birth, the revelation of Christ within. It was Paul who coined the phrase, Christ in you, your hope of glory. It is obvious that he caught the significance of this more mystical side of the Christian message.
It is this, Christ in you that we seek to awaken in our mainstream, conscious thought. Tonight, this presence may nudge you during a Scripture reading, the singing of a hymn, the hearing of a solo, or an interpretation of the Christmas experience. However it comes, I invite you to listen to it, to make room in the busy inn of your mind and heart for this spirit of God to move you.
The tall white candle at the center of the table represents the Christ at the center of our being. It was lit before this service began to symbolize the eternal nature of our spiritual essence. Its flame will be passed to each of the candles on the table and ultimately to the candle you hold in your hand.
The Christ candle is symbolic of the Word found in the Gospel of John. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:1-5).
Christ is the essence of God individualized in each of us. It is intended that our complete identity be built upon this eternal foundation. As it is, we have accepted as the basis of our identity, ideas of lack and limitation. These, in turn, have found expression in our minds, our bodies, and our circumstances.
Our hope of glory lies in re-discovering our spiritual core. Like Jesus, we must begin to claim ourselves the sons and daughters of the living God. We must re-establish our identity in the Word so that Word may become flesh, full of grace and truth, and dwell among us.
This candle is lighted for Mary, who represents the spiritually receptive intuition.
Mary represents the spiritually receptive intuition of each of us, the higher self, that is open and receptive to the things of Spirit. She is our intuitive nature – that part of us that knows there is more to life than this human, physical existence.
Mary is the still, small, voice of Spirit that speaks in our inner ear, in our times of quiet. It is this voice that continually knocks upon the door of our hearts and minds, reminding us to listen.
Deep within, we know that we are spiritual beings and that we are something very wonderful. In the quiet, this voice of Spirit gently nudges us, showing us how to let our God self, the Christ, be brought forth in to expression.
Mary had great faith in God. She represents that in us which is every ready to magnify the Lord, our God. She is the strong, inner conviction of knowing, that works to bring forth the Christ self, into expression in our daily lives.
This candle is lighted for Joseph, who represents the spiritually receptive intellect.
Joseph represents the intellectual aspect of our spiritual awakening. In the beginning, something nudges our attention from the depths of our soul. This is the Mary aspect that Beth spoke of. We want to understand this nudge and so we begin an all-out intellectual pursuit to get a handle on what is happening.
Our soul is pregnant with a new and wondrous possibility. But how can this be? Joseph wants to know. Here is new life being brought forth without the aide of intellectual cultivation.
Our Joseph nature, the intellectual aspect of the mind, must reassess its function. Before it was the leader, the teacher, the presenter of new ideas. Now it becomes the observer, the student, the discerner of eternal truths. It beholds divine ideas, ideas that are untouched by the limitations of human thought, born out of the virgin regions of the soul.
Joseph is instructed to not be afraid to take Mary as his wife. The mind that grasps the wonder, the gravity of the holy birth, looses all fear and is guided into an understanding of its oneness with God.
Let your mind be open, receptive and obedient to the light shining through the depths of your soul. Awaken from your dream, as Joseph did, committed to nurturing the Christ child born in you.
THE SHEPHERDS (three candles)
These candles are lighted for the shepherds who represent our ability to watch our thinking.
The shepherds represent our ability to watch over our thoughts. They are our judgment faculty, the innate ability to discern and judge. Just as the shepherds kept watch over their flock by night, so we are to keep watch over the flock of our thoughts and feelings.
We make a conscious commitment to keep a high standard and watch over our thinking. We are beings of energy and how we consciously use this great power of our minds affects our daily experience. We can think thoughts and feel feelings that build the kind of life we want or can do the opposite.
In daily times of quiet as we take time to still the mind. We remember that we are spiritual beings, here to express the highest and best that is in us. We let go of all that is not constructive, so that we may focus this wonderful energy and power of our spirit on the good.
With the spiritually receptive soul and the illumined intellect believing in this birthing process; the birth of the Christ Child takes place as we let go of limited thoughts and feelings allowing this new life of the Christ to be brought forth effortlessly within us.
THE WISEMEN (three candles)
These candles are lighted for the wise men who represent indwelling wisdom.
Just as there is a wisdom that knows how to unfold a mighty oak tree from within a tiny, insignificant acorn, so there is a wisdom that knows how to unfold the Christ potential from within the mind and heart of a human being. The Wise Men from the East symbolize this innate wisdom.
Sometimes we are afraid to move out of current conditions of limitation because it doesn’t appear that we have the knowledge to successfully pull it off. When we commit ourselves to growth, to changes that will encourage the bringing forth new dimensions of the emerging soul, the wisdom we need is given, as we need it.
The East represents the within, the inner regions of our spiritual nature. The Wise Men from the East bear gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These gifts are symbolic of the prospering provision God is giving each soul that it may freely move into each of its various stages of growth, unhindered by limitation of any kind.
When we feel the oppression of limitation, we should take it as a signal that we have forgotten that God is in charge of the inner activity that will ultimately lead us to complete freedom. We have diverted the Wise Men from the East and have attempted to draw upon our own limited resources of wisdom – a move that always leaves us wanting. Trust the wisdom of God working through you. Quietly listen to that same inner wisdom that led Jesus of Nazareth to a full demonstration of His Christhood. Christ in you is your hope of glory, demonstrating the Christ in your life is the greatest glory you can bestow upon the human family and the world.