Emmanuel Flames

The darkness pours in thick. Before you know it, the whole room is filled with it, heavy and suffocating...and in the dark, fears start to surface.

But you remember Jesus. He is there with you. Emmanuel, remember? God with us. In the cold of winter, God with us. In the pain and worry and fear, God with us. And perfect love casts out fear.

A candle flame flickers in the middle of the room. God with us, lighting this candle of hope. A single flame of perfect love to cast out flickering shadows of fear to the corners of the room.

Your heart swells with hope.

But...it is only one candle. And soon, the darkness just outside this circle of light seems just as terrifying as before. "Really, Jesus? Is this all You can muster? One candle of light, when You spoke the blazing sun into being?"

Come light your own candle in Mine, He whispers. Come find your own light in My light. Then there will be two candles. Then My light will spread.

So you do. Hands shaking, you raise your white stub of a candle up to His sturdy flame and watch as your wick slowly burns...and gently takes on the flame. Now you have your own light.

It's warm and bright and the darkness seems to shudder at this sharing of light - sharing, but not lessening. For in Christ's kingdom, sharing always means multiplying. Sharing breaks bread in two and then into five thousand. Sharing splits flame into ten, and then twenty, then fifty, till a whole church is filled with little fires of hope-light on Christmas Eve. Sharing takes a handful of flour and a drop of oil and feeds three souls for many days (1 Kings 17).

What sort of strange multiplication is this, that splits and breaks and empties and buries and somehow grows the most beautiful trees in the end?

"And he said, 'With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it?  It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.' " // Mark 4:30‭-‬32

This is the kingdom we get to be a part of. Where sharing produces more than keeping it to yourself. Where giving leaves you filled up, not emptied. And where hope lights candles in the dark which nothing in this world can snuff out.

This eternal flame we look to - this Jesus born on Christmas to save all our days and resurrect our own flames - this Son of God knew what it meant to be emptied and shared and broken. In every way. He shared a home in His mother's womb, knowing the dependence we feel every day. He shared food and hours with people, every one of them as familiar to Him as the moon at night. And then He broke bread...and broke His body. Then He shared Himself, ended life...to bring life. Like a splintered log becoming pieces to light a dozen fires. He was broken for us - the seed dying in the ground, only to sprout up into new life, more glorious than before.

"And Jesus answered them, 'The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there will My servant be also. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him. Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.' Then a voice came from heaven: 'I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.' " // John 12:23‭-‬28

This darkness all around is not dark when we share our lights, passing down candle flames one hand to another. The Christmas Eve service brings a settling of hope. Nights of cold and dark are filled with light. And the anticipation rises as we sing the praises...o come, let us adore Him. What once was a long trial of hope for hundreds of years as the world waited for the Messiah to break upon the earth is now a hope fulfilled in Emmanuel, God with us. Not just for those short years of His presence on Earth. No, now our hope is even stronger with the Holy Spirit living in our hearts.

A living hope (1 Peter 1:3-9).

The anticipation, this hope for God's glory to break across a broken world? It did not end with Jesus' life. It split apart the curtains in the holy of holies, offered us His Spirit to bring us closer to Him, and then made a new promise, the one that lay scripted into the foundations of the world from the beginning of time:

I AM coming back. I AM going to break the darkness permanently. I AM going to free you from every single thing that is against you. You are Mine, and I am coming back for you.

"O holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born to us today
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord, Emmanuel..."

This overwhelming love, this glorious presence of God, is His gift. A gift that we can re-gift and give away and pour out and still there is more - a division that multiplies. An equation that surrenders. Emmanuel = God with us. There is no subtracting from this. Have you been trying to add to it, friend? To get a different answer or find another gift?

I grab my candle, hold it steady. I hear the voices rising together in one song of worship to the King. And I turn, my toddler watching wide-eyed, and see my two little babies being baptized. Water washing over their heads, the name of the Trinity being spoken, and two souls being brought to His feet. I cannot save them. But I can bring them as close as possible to Jesus. The pastor hands us two candles and I smile. Because sometimes the way you share His light - the way you pass on a wick of this eternal flame - is by lighting the candles of new life. By bringing a baby into this world. By bringing a baby to the very throne of grace.

Bring your family, tiny candles flickering fast, into His presence today. Offer them up in prayer, soothe them with His word, dazzle them with the story of His birth. And give them the gift of your being present today, because He has given you the gift of His presence.



2 comments:

  1. Beautiful, Nugget. Thank you so much for writing this. God bless you and your family this next year!

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    Replies
    1. You are so welcome! God bless you, girl <3 it means a lot that you are still connecting from far away.

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