If there is anything we really notice in anyUkrainianChurch, it is candles. Candles are everywhere and at all times. We have candles for all occasions: at Easter, Epiphany, Christmas, baptisms, funerals, in front of icons, at vigils and on the altar. So why does our church have so many candles? Well, to light a candle is to pray. Lighting a candle is an act of prayer.
To understand this further we have to look at the bible. God has always appeared as a fire, or a bright light. Jesus’ birth was announced by a star of light. The Holy Spirit came upon the church as tongues of fire. Throughout history God has appeared as fire and light.
In every church there is an ever burning sanctuary lamp. When you see this light burning, as you do in all our churches, you are reminded that Jesus Christ is kept in the Holy Tabernacle. The candle is the symbol of the presence of God.
People light candles when they come to church. That candle is an act of prayer. We usually light this candle with some intention in mind e.g. someone is sick, someone needs a blessing etc.
The devil is afraid of the candle because he is afraid of the light which symbolizes Jesus who is also known as the “truth”. The devil loves the darkness. The candle breaks the darkness and gives a light for all to see the truth which comes from, and is God. So, instead of cursing the darkness we light a candle of hope and love. The Easter candle is exactly this same light because Jesus, by is Resurrection, delivered our freedom from darkness which is also know as sin.
Altar boys and others hold candles when the priest is reading the Gospel. Since the bible is the Word of God, it is also the light of the world. This light helps us see the path of life which must go through darkness at times.
The candle we receive at baptism is a very important candle. It is so rich with symbolism. Jesus comes to the child and dispels the darkness of sin and gives the one baptised the light to walk in the truth.
Every time seek God or are praying we should hold a candle or have one lit. In Matt. 5:16 we read, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see you good works and give glory to your Father in Heaven”.
It is not only in church that we need to light candles. The world needs the light of Christ even more. There are no secret citizens in theKingdomofGod. There are those who hold candles and are witness to the light of truth and those who do not know God, or are ashamed of God and never have any light around them. They neither serve God nor their fellow humans; they are lost in the darkness.
The next time you are in church have a look around and light a candle of hope.
This post is also available in: Ukrainian