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To Light or not to Light? (We Lit)

Sometimes something is suggested that is really well intended, but it just doesn't feel right... That's how I felt when I saw on social media a request for churches in the UK not to light the second candle on their Advent wreath/ring as a sign of solidarity with those in Bethlehem who are suffering so much at the moment.  The logic was that the candle for Advent 2 is (sometimes) seen as representing 'Peace' and sometimes (more rarely?) is called the Bethlehem Candle.

I had a problem with the idea, not that it wasn't well intended, but that it actually - to me - was misguided in two ways...

Firstly, all four candles are 'prophetic'  we light candles of 'hope' when all seems hopeless, 'joy' when we are distraught, disillusioned or desperate, 'love' when the world feels full of hatred - and for 'peace' in a world where war, violence and injustice seem to reign.  Not to light the candle seems to me, to say 'we have given up on the idea of peace.'

But what about the solidarity with Bethlehem?  So why just that town (other than the obvious baby Jesus in a manger) - should we not stand in solidarity with those in Ukraine or Russia, those who are affected by wars in places we never hear about, or those who are victims of violence in the home?  If we don't light the candle for Bethlehem, then maybe we should never light it at all..

Two much used sayings...

  • It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness
  • A candle at midnight is a non-conformist; it say to the darkness, 'I beg to differ'

We lit our 'peace' candle as a prophetic symbol that we believe Gods promises are trustworthy and true.

We lit our 'peace' candle because we want to say to the darkness that threatens to overwhelm Bethlehem, and countless other places, 'we beg to differ'

We lit our candle rather than cursing the darkness.

Others chose differently - maybe they were right and we were wrong, but we believe our motivation - just like theirs - was good.  


  • Well-Expressed Personal Perspective: The author effectively conveys their personal feelings and reservations about a suggested action related to not lighting the second candle on the Advent wreath in solidarity with Bethlehem. This adds a relatable and human element to the commentary.

    Clarity of Thought: The author articulates two main points of disagreement with the suggested idea, providing a clear structure to the argument. The concerns are centered around the symbolic meaning of all four Advent candles and the selective nature of solidarity with Bethlehem.

    Prophetic Symbolism Exploration: The paragraph delves into the prophetic symbolism associated with each candle on the Advent wreath, highlighting the importance of expressing hope, joy, love, and peace in challenging circumstances. This exploration enhances the depth of the author's perspective.

    Consideration of Solidarity: The author questions the selective nature of solidarity with Bethlehem and suggests a broader perspective encompassing other areas affected by conflict and violence. This raises a thought-provoking point about the universality of suffering and the need for a more inclusive approach to expressing support.

    Incorporation of Sayings: The inclusion of two well-known sayings adds a thoughtful touch to the argument, reinforcing the idea that positive action (represented by lighting a candle) is preferable to passively accepting darkness or adversity.

    Balanced Acknowledgment: The paragraph ends on a balanced note, acknowledging that others may have chosen a different course of action, but emphasizing the shared motivation of goodwill. This openness to different perspectives contributes to a respectful and constructive dialogue.

    Connection to Faith: The mention of God's promises and the belief in their trustworthiness adds a layer of faith-based perspective to the discussion, providing insight into the author's values and guiding principles.

    Overall, the comments provide a comprehensive analysis of the paragraph, acknowledging its strengths in expressing personal feelings, presenting clear arguments, exploring symbolism, considering solidarity, incorporating sayings, and maintaining a balanced and open-minded perspective.

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