Thursday, November 21, 2013

Take this candle. Light it. And pray.

source: The Christmas Candle Facebook page

Go see The Christmas Candle right away.

Opening weekend. Make time. THIS Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

I can count on ONE FINGER how many movies I've seen in theaters since last Thanksgiving. And that movie is Les Mis, which I've since seen at Toby's, twice, live theater. (Read about that here and here.) So when I tell you to go see The Christmas Candle right away, you need to understand the urgency I'm putting behind it. Coming from a girl who waits for movies to come to dvd, and then further waits in the "library netflix" (holds) queue to see things months, even years after they were at peak popularity, this is a really big deal.

Our church, New Covenant Fellowship (PCA), was honored to host an advance screening of The Christmas Candle, followed by a Q&A session with the CEO of the production company, former Senator Rick Santorum. The Christmas Candle will open in approximately 400 theaters in the US and UK on Friday. In Central PA, it will be playing in three locations, the Regal Cinemas in Harrisburg, Lancaster, and York. (Harrisburgers, that's the theater at Harrisburg (East) Mall.) A complete list of theaters is available online. Let's fill the movie theaters. Request the film come to more locations as well! I am dismayed that there is not one single theater in the whole state of Maryland that is playing it opening weekend. EDIT: In Maryland, it opens Friday at the Regal in Silver Spring, although the movie website does not list it. I also recognize that there is a higher-budget, better-advertised, post-apocalyptic, dystopian-society movie also releasing on Friday. That is all the more reason why we need to rally behind The Christmas Candle. Dollars talk in changing how Hollywood sees faith and culture. On a frigid Wednesday evening, our sanctuary was packed. I talked with people who traveled 90 minutes just to see this film. Think about how our communities would be different if our church pews were filled like this every Sunday, and then we went out to love and serve the least and the lost. (Thinking is a start. Then we all have to DO something about it!)

All worship services should be SRO: Standing Room Only. photo: Lisa Yee Swope

photo: PennLive

photo: Jeff Coleman

What if the movie theaters were packed to Standing Room Only for a movie that celebrates miracles?
What if people stopped cursing the darkness and started lighting candles?
What does faith look like, lived out?
How does love show up on your hands and feet to serve others?

In The Christmas Candle, a priest leaves his work with the London poor when he is called to serve in a tiny town. The villagers expect him to preach all through Advent about the expected miracle: that as has happened once every 25 years for the past two centuries, a single candle will be touched by an angel and will grant a Christmas miracle, a direct answer to the prayer of the bearer. But in a modern, 1890's world, an electrical and steam-powered world, the progressive new minister wants to end this fairy tale and see instead the miracle to take on human form, acts of kindness and good deeds. Then God steps in. And God's ways are indeed exceedingly, abundantly, beyond all we ask or imagine.

source: The Christmas Candle Facebook page

There is so much symbolism to candles. A few near and dear to my heart include:
  • My childhood advent calendar. I used the same one for advent scriptures every year growing up, and the very first day was Isaiah 9:2. "The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned."
  • The opening of the gospel of John. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." This also was the first of Mrs Who's quotation in A Wrinkle in Time that I could identify the source.
  • Hanukkah. A single night's oil burned for eight nights, long enough for more oil to be pressed for use at the temple. Don't let the Light go out (Peter, Paul & Mary).
  • In a similar Jewish vein, the Sabbath Prayer song from Fiddler on the Roof. "May the Lord protect and defend you..."
  • Matthew 5:14-16 "You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father."

Who else might enjoy The Christmas Candle?
  • Max Lucado readers -- he wrote the book upon which the movie is based.
  • Les Mis fans -- Samantha Barks, who played Eponine in the movie version, plays the antagonist-slash-love-interest. In fact, the night after she sang at the Oscars, she was in the Cotswolds to start filming.
  • Susan Boyle fans -- not only is this her acting debut, she also sings the theme song, which is also featured on her newest CD.
  • Downton Abbey viewers -- as I understand it, all the costumes are not replicas but are original to the time period. They are gorgeous1.
  • Christmas movie lovers!
1 Except for some of the vestments, which within the movie one of the parishoners lovingly crafted with more enthusiasm than...taste. Our pastor remarked that he was glad that we didn't didn't use vestments in our congregation. So really, all I need is ONE Lutheran or Episcopalian congregation or priest who's got ONE extra... outfit? robe and stole? I don't even know the words! for THIS Sunday. Any takers?
What if people stopped cursing the darkness and started lighting candles?

Go see The Christmas Candle. And please, tell others. Let's change the way Hollywood sees faith and families.


  1. Thanks for sharing this about the movie! Our family will check it out!