The Tradition of Christingle-- light in a dark place

This is a "Christingle," an orange decorated with a candle, red ribbon, and various kinds of dried fruit. Originally a Moravian tradition, the Christingle tradition began around 1467. Each part has a different meaning; the orange stands for God's world; the candle for Jesus Christ, the light of the world; the red ribbon for Christ's blood, shed to save the world; and the fruit for God's creation, including ourselves. The word "Christingle" means "Christ-light."

The Scripture used for a Christingle service is that of Herod ordering the death of all the boy babies under two years old, after the Wise Men failed to come back to Herod with Jesus' location.

A highlight of the Christingle night is a procession by the children of the parish around the darkened sanctuary with their Christingle candles lit. The thin train of light moves gently around the open space, bringing light to the far corners of the room, and at the same time mutely asking the adults in the room how they are shining for Christ in the New Year.

The choirmaster here at CSMSG frequently walks, during a service, from one end of the sanctuary to the other. He uses the outside aisles, which are separated from the rest of the nave by a series of arched pillars, and something wonderful happens when he walks past each pillar. A light sets in the ceiling above each pillar, and the light shining down from it strikes his white chasuble, and when it does the whole arch and the wall near it and the faces of those people sitting in that arch suddenly glow much brighter. He is not producing the light himself, only reflecting it, but when he reflects the light is suddenly that much stronger.

In the New Year, let us take the mental step of remembering that we do not produce light in the world, but light from the Source reflects off of us and shines around us. Without arrogance, without legalism, without judgment, we can be the Christingle, the symbol, and carry the light that God has given us into God's world as we do God's work with our lives.

God bless you to shine.

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