Monday, January 3, 2011

Christmas Eve Candle Light service

Like many churches around the world, we do a candle light service for Christmas Eve.  This year as i was leading the hymn "Slient Night" and the candles were being lighted all around the sanctuary i saw my 4 year old Emily raising her lit candle (with the protective plastic cup around the flame) toasting the other kids around her saying 'cheers!'  Tammy (my wife) put an end to that but during the 3rd verse i smelled the unforgettably terrible smell of burning hair and see Emily frantically hitting the side of her head - she had caught her hair on fire

This post from the blog hits the nail on the head
(by the way we use the plastic cup candle)

“Give me my fire.”

That is what my 5-year-old said at church the other night when it was time to light our candles at the Christmas Eve Eve service. (We went on Thursday night.)
Now clearly, as a dad, you want her to say, “Please give me my fire,” but I was willing to let it slide because I was so excited about the candles. That’s easily one of my favorite traditions, but in my excitement I realized I’ve never really done that topic justice on Stuff Christians Like.
I’ve written one post about how as parents you spend every day of the year trying to keep fire out of your kids’ hands but on Christmas Eve hand them an open flame. But there’s so much more to this truly awesome experience. So many little details to be unearthed and SCL-ized. Which is why today, in a relatively quiet week on the site, and mere days after the event, I thought I would bring you this:

The 3 Types of Christmas Eve Church Candles.
1. The Plastic Cup Candle
This candle is just want it sounds like, a simple cylinder of white wax stuck inside a hard plastic cup with a thick lollipop like plastic stick poking out of the bottom. The beauty of this candle is that you never get burned by wax, as it all pools in the cup portion of the contraption. This is a high end candle. It’s like the iPad of candles. The cup is practically a chalice and its solid construction allows for some series light saber fights with your younger brothers. If you’re into that kind of thing. Which I am.

2. The Paper Disc Candle
You know when you shop online and sort items from high price to low? That’s what we did today, so this is the silver medal option. In this version, your candle is simply pushed through a circle of paper with a star shape opening in the middle. The paper is often white with green text on it. This is a great option if you want a more authentic feeling experience than the plastic cup candle, which is a bit like a Donald Trump version of the candle. This is the one our church used. The only problem with these is that they wear out after a few years. The opening gets torn and bent to the point that hot wax just flows down the side of the candle directly onto your hand. That happened to us last week. I got some on my hand and almost screamed during a quiet moment. Seconds later, my 7 year old let out a near silent yelp and looked at me with a face of disbelief that said, “Seriously dad, did you just give me a hand fire? Is there not a mongoose you could put in my tiny mitts or maybe a switchblade instead?” I was proud of her for not dropping the flame and still consider this my favorite form of candle. (Hopefully my church will forever go this route.)

3. The Bare Candle
My friend’s church in California didn’t have covers at all. They gave a few to kids in the crowd but for the adults, they essentially said, “Suck it up you wusses. It’s time to sing ‘O Holy Night,’ quit getting distracted by the molten wax that is cascading down the candle onto the soft parts of your hands.” This is probably a cost saving measure. I’m sure those plastic covers cost a lot. Or maybe this is a postmodern/missional/emergent/relevant thing? Is it more postmodern to get your hands burned by wax or not to get your hands burned by wax? I always get those things confused.
Regardless of the type of candle, I hope this tradition continues. There’s something really beautiful about this and I’m a fan of the candle approach. Maybe next year I’ll bring my own. Would that be weird? Would it be awkward if I showed up with my own Cinnabon scented candle? Let’s be honest, as I mentioned on Twitter, the scent of a Cinnabon is 87% more enjoyable than the actual experience of eating one. They sell the scent in candle form at Wal-mart. I’m just putting it out there.

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