Lighting a Candle
Our house on the Andover Road is built back to front, which means the kitchen is on the front of the house facing the main road. Every day there is a steady stream of passers-by, not the school children at present, but joggers, dog walkers and family groups – mum and dad in their running shoes with small children pedalling madly on their bikes. On the evening of Sunday 22nd I lit a candle as we had been invited to do and put it on the kitchen windowsill, as it glowed gently against the gathering dark I found it strangely comforting, a symbol of hope in the darkness, a reminder that God is with us, with family, with friends, with strangers and with all who pass by.
On the Monday evening as the instructions came that we should all stay at home I looked at my candle on the windowsill and thought “I need this light again tonight” and so has come the new habit of lighting the candle at seven o’clock in the evening, which is the time when I am usually cooking our evening meal. It stays alight for an hour, in that time there has been food on the table, wine in the glass, a review of the day, a sharing of frustrations and a plan for the morrow. This Sunday British Summer Time begins, the evenings will be lighter, the candle light less obvious, but I shall continue to do my evening lighting of the lamp until this epidemic passes, until we can once again gather as families, friends and community to put bread and wine on the table and give thanks for the faithfulness of God and the light of Christ who is our hope and our bread of life.
There are many lovely candle lighting prayers but among the best is one we often call the evening collect, but in fact is titled in the Book of Common Prayer as a collect for aid against all perils:
Lighten our darkness we beseech thee, O Lord; and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of the only son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Revd Rita Ball, St George the Martyr