Wafts of wispy candle-smoke wave in tiny fronds from slim candles held aloft in children's hands, while they hang on grimly to the safer side of things.
We're at a Christingle service. Lights glow from a nearby Christmas tree. Aromas, sights and sounds fill the atmosphere. We're invited to watch, wait and wonder anew at Light come down for me and you. Come, take a pew...
Light has come
Shafts of scattered light pick out patchwork patterns of jewelled fragments dancing with vibrancy—stained-glass images through which we read a story still ringing true.
Polished pews we dutifully slide off, painfully kneel on hard woven hassocks wrought with love and devotion, the warp and weft of history recording human and divine encounter.
Readying ourselves to add our links of adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication to the ongoing chain of prayer.
Angelic voices rising and mingling with the coughs, chokes and mistimed notes of congregational singing. Songs of adoration, praise in celebrating Mystery beyond our understanding.
Procession trailing, gently swaying robes sweeping the floor as eyes turn to watch them passing by and catch a glimpse of choristers—bold and shy—following the vestment-wearing few.
A pause in proceedings, a sniff, shuffle, sighed, "Excuse me", as we file forward, released from our seats, now participating in homage paid to the Nativity scene where all sojourners meet.
Finding a babe in the manger, an infant serene, as His mother, Mary, quietly observes Him, pondering deeply all that has been.
These are our representatives of Your love come down—to celebrate the wonder of Your kingly crown set aside for earth's suffering, the God-head revealed in humanity shared.
Now You make Your home with the hurting, the broken, the lonely and lost. No longer confined to a manger, a stable, a desert, a cross. You are out in this world, slipping into its streets of shame to rescue the desperate, the hopeless and helpless. Society's rejects are accepted and loved, forever welcomed, made new, received by heaven above.
So we make room in our hearts and lives for You too, while we ponder these things as Mary would do.
Then we take what we learn and we share it around, because everyone deserves to come Home safe and sound.
Back to the place we used to come from—back to believing we truly belong. Back to Your side and back to Your heart. Forever to stay and never depart.
Watch, wait and wonder
and ponder anew
the steep descent
of Love breaking through
to our humanity
bringing light, hope
and clarity to see
how much Father God
desires to be reunited
with you and me
Christingle literally means Christ Light. It's a service of light and ceremony, of song and symbolism, ritual and reverence, celebrating the Hope and Joy we have in Jesus.
Although I don't belong to a church that celebrates Christingle, our youngest son, Sam, used to be a Cathedral chorister once upon a time, and I enjoyed participating in the Christmas services there, as well as in various Church of England (C of E) ones I've attended over the years. My reflection stems from those, with a hefty dose of poetic licence thrown in for good measure!
What helps you to become more centred in the awe and wonder of Christmas?
Joy Lenton is a grateful grace dweller, contemplative Christian writer, poet and blogger, author of 'Seeking Solace: Discovering grace in life's hard places'. She enjoys encouraging others on their journey of life and faith at her blogs wordsofjoy.me and poetryjoy.com as she seeks to discover the poetic in the prosaic and the eternal in the temporal. You can connect with her on Twitter and on Facebook.