The fourth candle of advent is the candle of love. And when the waiting is over, we light the Christ candle.
My previous blogs on these candles, the candles of hope, peace, and joy, have had a bit of darkness in them, but love? Well, love is what the Christ candle is all about.
All week long, as we celebrated Christmas amidst the hustle and bustle of plans and food and gifts and comings and goings of children and friends and family -- and yes, also amidst the weariness and frustrations -- this poem by Christina Rosetti, put to music and sung by Shawn Colvin, has been playing in the background of my mind:
Love came down at Christmas
Love all lovely, love divine
Love was born at Christmas
Star and angels gave the sign.
Love shall be our token
Love be yours and love be mine
Love to God and neighbour
Love our plea and gift and sign...
If you do not know this lovely carol, there are numerous versions on YouTube, but this is my favourite: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3tDzL_22nDA
It’s all about love. Passing on the message of Christmas, symbolized by the white Christ candle, is acting on it: giving it away, letting it be our token, our gift, our sign.
And I’ve experienced that this week. Love is two 80+-year-old women watching two very active pre-school brothers in the church nursery, passing up the Christmas eve service so that the boys' mom could experience an hour of peace. Love is watching my son and daughter-in-law cradling their month old baby. Love is watching people throw money in the Sally Ann kettles, and love is joining one of the bell ringers in a slightly off-key version of The First Noel outside the doors of the local grocers. Love is doctors, nurses, gas station attendants, pharmacists, pastors, policemen, waitresses, cooks and so many more folks working to keep us healthy, safe, nurtured and well-fed while we enjoyed our holiday. Love is homemade Christmas gifts. Love is walking with your loved ones and finding a token of love on the trail: a heart-shaped stone.
Love is a tiny fir tree in our woods, carefully, beautifully, and anonymously decorated to give walkers in the woods a moment of surprise and joy.
Love is writing your worries on a slip of paper and tossing them into the God-box, saying, “They’re all yours, now,” and knowing it to be true. Love is the resident sweetie, who hates performing or speaking in public, joining the Dutch folk at church to sing “Ere Zij God” (a Dutch carol, much loved by his wife); and love is the Scots Presbyterians saying, “Beautiful!” Love is a moment of quietness. Love is serving a simple meal of meatballs and mashed potatoes for Christmas dinner and not having anyone whine, “Where’s the turkey and the stuffing and the cranberry sauce?” Love is being able to do what you love and giving it away as a personal gift to the world. And love is having a friend send you a quote that fits in perfectly with this blog: “Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love." (Hamilton Wright Mabie)
It’s all about love. Pass it on, eh?