St. Andrew's-Cheney Memorial Church
June 2002
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The Light Of The World

In liturgical worship and within Anglicanism in particular symbolism is quite important. Symbols such as candles, which adorn the chancel, have a definite use and purpose in our worship of God. In many parts of the Church, especially within Evangelical Protestantism, symbolic communication has been lost or neglected. For many Christians the few symbols that remain have become unintelligible and meaningless.

Commenting on the significance of symbolism Dr. Robert Webber writes, "...when we consider the function of symbols as a means of understanding and communicating the Christian faith, we must not treat them as merely psychological creations but as images of an ultimate reality. The realm of the supernatural is as real as the natural. Thus, a symbol in the natural world corresponds to a reality of the supernatural world." (God Still Speaks, p. 144) The objects which we call symbols are not present for merely aesthetic purposes, i.e., they are not in the building just to make it look pretty. Dr. Webber goes on to speak of the necessity of symbolic communication. "The nature of faith itself demands the transformation of supernatural concepts into visible images and symbols. Because no finite language can fully and completely express supernatural truth adequately, biblical religion and the church in history has always relied on symbolism as a means of communicating that which transcends the realm of the finite. The language of faith has always, therefore, been a language of symbols."

Symbolic communication is not confined to the Church, but is an intrinsic part of communication within every society. If we wish to know if someone is married do we ask them point blank? We may, but not usually. To answer our question most of us take a quick glance of the ring finger on the person's left hand. Or the uniform of a police officer or soldier with the accompanying insignia are non-verbal, i.e., symbolic, forms of communication. In society symbolism is so common that we give it little thought. Haven't all of us on the written drivers exam been required to identify the messages of road signs merely by their various shapes?

In our faith lights, whether lamps or candles, are a common symbol. Christian worship, especially the liturgical form, has its roots in Judaism. In the book of Exodus God gave specific instructions about the construction of the tabernacle, later the Temple. Among the items God said should be in the tabernacle was the Golden Candlestick with its seven prongs. This impressive lamp was to be always burning in the place of worship. Even today the observance of the Sabbath begins with the lighting of candles in a Jewish home.

In Christian worship candles always in some way point to Christ. It is not the candles that are important, but what they represent. This will vary to a certain extent depending on the season of the Church Year.

Our year begins with Advent, the four Sundays prior to Christmas. Advent means an arrival. During this season we remember the First Advent of Christ when He came as a baby born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem. We also are pointed to the Second Advent when Christ will return as the King of Glory. The four Advent candles which are progressively lit during this season tell us how the light, which is Christ, approaches getting ever brighter as the time draws near.

On Christmas Eve after all of the Advent candles have been lit the center candle known as the Christ or Christmas Candle is lit. The light of Christ has at long last arrived; the Incarnation has occurred. This large white candle continues to glow until Epiphany, January 6th.

Following Epiphany and Lent we come to Easter. The resurrection of Christ is the culmination of His work as the Savior. After three years of public ministry and a life of obedience to the Father, Jesus became the perfect sacrifice for our salvation. Christ predicted His death by crucifixion and also His victory over death which would occur three days later. On Saturday night, Easter Eve, a candle is lit and placed on the north or Gospel side of the chancel. This candle is also large and white, like the Christ Candle, and is called the Pascal Candle. The word Pascal is the Greek word for Passover. It is known as such because Christ died and rose again at the Jewish Passover season. The Pascal Candle remains lit for forty days, from Easter Eve to Ascension Day. This reminds us that Christ was on earth in His glorified body teaching His disciples for forty days before He went back to heaven to serve as our Great High Priest.

In these specific seasons and at other times the symbol of light, candles, is used in our worship. Why and what is the message being communicated?

Jesus came to reveal God to the world. Jesus said, "I am the light of the world, he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have this light of life." (St. John 8:12) Christ's light points us to God who is the source of all good.

Christ's light is a light of salvation. As the psalmist said, "The Lord is my light and my salvation." (Psalm 27:1) This saving light reveals to us our true condition and need as well as showing us the way out of our spiritual dilemma. We are called upon to respond to the Light and we will in one of two ways according to the Scriptures. "And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God." (St. John 3:19-21) The light of Christ either attracts or repels.

If we do come into the Light, the Light becomes our guide. "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." (Psalm 119:105) God has provided revelation through the centuries by prophets and apostles. When the Father sent the Son we received the ultimate revelation. As St. John tells us, "And the word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father." (St. John 1:14) God has provided us with all of the truth and direction we need in this life. An unfailing light goes before us.

As we travel through this present existence the light of God encourages us to persevere in the faith. The expression, "A light at the end of the tunnel," is a common metaphor for hope. This world is a dark place, but we move toward the light ahead. In the last book of the Bible St. John was granted a vision of that light, the new Jerusalem. He wrote, "And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light shall the nations walk; and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it, and its gates shall never be shut by day - and there shall be no night there; they shall bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean shall enter it, nor any one who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life." (Rev. 21:22-27) The candles in worship remind us of that greater Light, which encourages us to push ahead for there is a Light at the end.

by Rev. F. M. Levi

Parish News

The Annual Parish Meeting was held April 14, 2002 following the Morning Prayer Service. It was preceded by a luncheon provided by the Vestry.

The National Day of Prayer was observed on May 2, 2002. The various churches of Tinley Park, including St. Andrew's, held a community prayer service at Faith Christian Reformed Church.

Domestic Missions

Please pray for the Rev. & Mrs. Gary McGinnis (Debbie), and their children Benjamin, Seth, Samuel, Caleb, & Jacob. Christ Reformed Episcopal Mission, Bothell, WA.

Rummage Sale

Date: June 1, 2002
Time: 9am-1pm
Sponsored by the Woman's Guild.

General Council

June 19-21, 2002.
Houston, Texas

Vacation Bible School

June 24-28, 9am -12, ages 4-12.
Program 30th - 9:30am
Picnic 12:00 noon the 30th.

Happy Birthday!

June 7 - Grant Chessman
June 8 - Melissa Drobnak
June 9 - Patty Levi
June 14- Carl Spencer
June 16- River Christenson
June 17- David Sellers
June 18- Jacqueline Robertson
June 18- Paul Sellers
June 23- Brian Stultz
June 30- Frank Levi, Jr.

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