Each time we gather together I make it a point to tell the story of the persecuted church and to thank God for the freedom that we have to meet for prayer in our apartment, a privilege not everyone shares.
In remembrance of our persecuted ancestors and in honor of our persecuted brothers and sisters today, we each light a candle. We gather the candles together as they did in the middle ages when they had to read the Bible by candle light in secret places deep in the dark of basements and catacombs.The candles also represent our âmes (souls) that are allumés (on fire) before God. By lighting a candle I acknowledge that my heart is open to hear God’s Word, and myself is open to connect with my brothers and sisters present this evening.
It’s nice to have a tradition that sets our spiritual time apart – indicating it is holy, set apart for God. And it’s interesting to see each person’s personalization of this little tradition. The first couple times we never really paid any attention to the candles after they were lit, they were forgotten. I put them out, alone, after everyone left.
Last week the first guy to leave stopped on his way out the door and said, “Hey I can’t leave my candle burning, I’m no longer here parmi vous (in your midst).” He promptly put out his candle. Following his example everyone else followed suite, putting out their candles on their way out the door.
This week a different crowd was at the house, and the first girl to leave said, “Hey, don’t you touch my candle! You leave it burning all night long, just because I’m not here doesn’t mean I stop pondering these things.” And everyone that night followed her example.
I think next time I might just send the candles home with people. That way they can keep them burning if they want, or bring them back if there’s anything left. People stay really late at our house. The candles are usually pretty short by the time people leave. Tonight they were only an inch or two tall, so it was easy to say, “let it burn.” I need to buy new really tall candles like they have at IKEA. Then they could burn all evening and go home with the guests.