Dimly Burning Wicks God Will Not Quench

A Service of Comfort and Peace

Sunday | 6:00 pm | Leonard Memorial Chapel

Rev. Linda McDermott

“ . . . a bruised reed God will not break, and a dimly burning wick God will not quench . . . ”

— Isaiah 42: 3

This is the first Christmas in my entire life where my mother will not be there to open gifts, nor will she have a chair at the table. Same for my husband in the loss of his mother just one week after mine. So, this year feels different — not bad, for we will still be surrounded by family, including new babies — but definitely with a note of sadness that may ring at any given moment when a memory is triggered.

This has also been a season that many of us entered into with heaviness after hearing of yet another mass shooting, another random bombing, another tragedy. My intention is not to bring you down. My intention is honesty. Naming our pain, our struggles, our heaviness. Because it is true that the images of raucous laugher and lively celebrations are not the experiences of many and seem inauthentic to the actual meaning of this season for Christians.

The prophet Isaiah once referred to “a dimly burning wick” — light which barely, precariously flickered in an otherwise dark room. I wonder if that image rings true even today. A dimly burning candle that looks and feels like it might go out with one more small puff of wind — what a perfect image for those who follow Jesus, those who love God, yet feel so vulnerable to simply burning out under all the heaviness.

Just one more news report. Just one more family argument. Just one more memory. Puff . . .

This Sunday evening in the Chapel, we will gather to hear the Christmas message in an atmosphere that recognizes and names the heaviness that also comes in this season. There will be psalter readings, times for prayer, beautiful music, a spoken word, and a gathering at the table of hope — Communion. I hope that you will come if the light of your own candle is barely holding up. I hope you will come to be a presence of love and comfort to someone else if your candle just so happens to be burning more brightly this year. I hope we can all hear a word of comfort and peace in this most beautiful, and sometimes sobering season.

Even a dimly burning wick, God will not quench.



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