The motto of the evangelization group The Christophers is “It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” We have many people around us who are willing to criticize the world’s situation, but fewer who are ready to light a candle of hope. What will you be willing to do? Will you curse the darkness, or light a candle? This is the choice with which we are faced as we enter the overlooked, yet very fruitful season of Advent. This season of preparation for Christmas takes place at the darkest time of the year. It is a time to face the darkness of our days by lighting the candle of hope in our hearts. There are two ways that we can keep this Advent candlelight vigil.
The first is by lighting a vigil candle of anticipation. We are often times not very good at being patient. This is especially true when we are younger, even more so because of the instant gratification of digital media. If I want to listen to a song, I can buy it immediately on I-Tunes and hear it. If I want to watch a movie, I can order it on my TV and watch it in minutes. IF I want to see someone whom I miss, I can Skype them or FaceTime them. It is all so very easy to do. But God doesn’t work that way.
Those technologies are built by impatient people for impatient people. God is, in contrast, very patient. That’s a good thing, because each of us has a long way to go to become a saint. To God, 1000 years is like a day. God’s delays may seem like never to us. But God doesn’t operate on our wavelength. He has a bigger picture in mind. We certainly fit into that picture, but our impatience certainly won’t force God’s hand, or hasten His will. Happy are those who wait on the Lord! Advent calls for a passivity of our souls. We need to wait on God to act.
However, we cannot just wait on the Lord. In the meantime, there is work to do. And so the second way that we can keep the candlelight vigil of Advent is to light a candle of hope in the world. While we light a candle for watching, we can light a candle for acting. There are so many people in the world who suffer for lack of love. No one sees them. No one knows them. Many die from lack of love. During Advent, might we reach outside of our immediate circle of friends and family, and help someone? Even little ways of love, such as a smile, or a thanks, can turn around a person’s life. It can help them realize that things are not as bad as they fear them to be. Each time we perform an act of charity, it is a light for a dark and weary world. If we were to light the night with love, what a beautiful vigil we would hold for the coming of our Lord.
In these days of Advent, when retailers are advertising gifts for us to give to one another, realize that the greatest gift that you can give another is the gift of your time. People need to know that they matter. You can help them to understand that, by lighting the vigil candle of charity. God needs your patience, so that you will hear His voice, and follow His prompting. Light the candle of anticipation. Look towards the dawn in the East, and see the star rise in your hearts, bringing the glad tidings of the newborn king.
Light these two candles, and you will be prepared for Christmas joy!