In some congregations starched vestments solemnize
the ritual conduct of the light from narthex to nave,
but here a child brings in the flame simply
outfitted with a candlelighter and determination
to touch taper to wick, in no cassock or cotta.
Maybe it burdens juvenile arms to hoist and hold
the brass torch at angle to process up the aisle.
Maybe our call to worship will be delayed
by the steady trek toward the distant table
where a lone candle anticipates new fire.
No matter. The Lord said, “I am the light,”
and when we gather a child rekindles our belief.
One Sunday it may be a kindergartner in cowboy boots,
the next a third-grader in a tie-dyed tee
who delivers the symbol. The light holds their eyes.
The flicker they keep burning with deliberate steps
and a firm grip on the slender barrel conveys a spirit
beyond their current grasp. They don’t know that
the splendor won’t vanish if a hasty pace
overwhelms the height or heft of a quivering flame
or a shortened wick cannot claim a spark.
Another bulb will flare under a match,
a fresh candle will receive its holy kiss,
the radiance will consume all who welcome it.
All is as it has been and was meant to be.
The little shepherds do their helpful work—
bear the beacon to the altar, then snuff the candle
and return the light to the world. They don’t see
on the faces they pass delighted smiles, gratitude
for such eager concentration applied to this ancient
task of transport, the acolyte in each one still
amazed by, still wondering at the light.
Cover image by Conscious Design