Sunday, December 18, 2016

"Yet it is far better to light the candle ...."

The temperature here this morning dropped from minus-11 at 5:30 to minus-13 now, 45 minutes later, and there's fresh snow on the ground. I'm guessing St. Andrew's will join other Chariton congregations and cancel services.

Whatever the case at our small church, many are going to miss the lighting of the fourth Advent candle today --- a signal that Christmastide is drawing near. Only the Christ candle, to be set alight on Christmas Eve, remains.

I cheated a little yesterday afternoon while doing errands at the church and somewhat prematurely gave the fourth candle a test run in order to take a photo. So feel free to claim this one as your own.

The proverbial, "It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness," comes to mind as these and other candles are lighted throughout the year. Sometimes attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, there's no indication that she ever said it. But her friend and protege, Adlai Stevenson, did --- during November of 1962 while characterizing that great woman shortly after her death.

Whatever the source, and some say it's an ancient Chinese proverb, the line seems to have appeared in print for the first time in a compilation of sermons by the English Wesleyan minister William Lonsdale Watkinson that was published in 1907 as The Supreme Conquest, and other sermons preached in America.

Here's a little bit of the Watkinson context: "But denunciatory rhetoric is so much easier and cheaper than good works, and proves a popular temptation. Yet is it far better to light the candle than to curse the darkness."

That's as true now as it was then --- and as important an imperative in these troublesome times as in was in those pre-World War I years. Light candles!

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