Well, it’s the middle of May and that means the end of another semester for this aged seminary student. While the end of the semester is always welcome, getting through the last few weeks is always hectic. As I was working on one of the last three papers due at the end of the semester, I turned to a book I read several years ago for some inspiration. When I pulled it from my bookcase, a small piece of paper with a note in my handwriting fell out of it. This is what it said:
The wilderness places of our lives may threaten to overwhelm us. We easily lose our way. But a second candle adds its light. The candle of wisdom and preparation joins the candle of watchful waiting.
This had nothing to do with the subject of the book it was tucked away in and I knew it was far too eloquent to be one of my original thoughts. So, using the miracle of Google, I did a search on the first few words of the phrase and discovered it was a quote from Chalice Worship. It’s a reading for the lighting of the second candle of Advent. Yes, I realize we are over six months away from the beginning of Advent, but these words seem to have wisdom for just about season of the year.
The idea of one light being joined to another made me think of how we become a community and that led to thinking about how the first humans discovered the value of being a part of a community. I suspect that light – more specifically fire – was a factor in the formation of the first community. On cold, dark prehistoric nights, I can imagine small campfires scattered around the countryside – each surrounded by a small group of people. Each could see the light of the other campfires and they wondered what the other people were like. Then someone got the “bright” idea to join their firewood with one of the other groups to make a larger fire. The light from their common fire reached further into the night providing more security, it provided more warmth and it required less maintenance to keep it burning throughout the night. Soon others saw the benefit of a larger fire and they joined in. Soon there was one large, communal bonfire each night that lit up the countryside every evening. Through the act of joining their light together, they learned the value of sharing the burden of other tasks of life. The simple act of sharing their light with each other led to the formation of relationships that were mutually beneficial and healthy.
I see this concept of people joining their light together in the stories of the history of Saint Andrew. As Gary shared last Sunday, it began with a “small but spunky” group and to that group others began to bring their light to join it to the flame that was growing at Saint Andrew. However, this isn’t just one of the stories of the good old’ days, it’s a process that is still going on today. But, it’s not enough for us to build the fire and keep it to ourselves. As the old camp song says:
It only takes a spark to get a fire going,
and soon all those around can warm up in its glowing.
That's how it is with God's love once you've experienced it;
you spread his love to everyone;
you want to pass it on. *
Mark is a commissioned Disciples of Christ minister and student at Central Baptist Theological Seminary. He is currently serving as a ministry intern at Saint Andrew. Mark can be reached at email@example.com.
*© 1969 Communiqué Music, Inc. Used by permission of Kurt Kaiser. All rights reserve