Last Sunday, we trained and commissioned our acolytes, those young leaders who light the candles in the sanctuary at the beginning of worship and then extinguish them at the end. I’m proud of these kids, who take this responsibility seriously and do it well. As I often tell them, they have an important job: they help us get ready for worship by reminding us that the presence of God is with us, and they lead us out from worship by carrying the light of Christ out to the world.
At our training session before worship last week, one of the acolytes stopped me at this point in my spiel and said, “If we’re supposed to be taking the light out to the world, how come we only get as far as the Gathering Space before we blow out the candle? Shouldn’t we go all the way outside?”
Did I mention that working with these acolytes is one of the best parts of my job?
I wonder how often we intend to take the light of Christ to the world… but we only got a few steps beyond the sanctuary. I wonder how often we’ve meant to make a phone call, give a gift, send a note… but we got swamped with our to-do list and didn’t get it done. I wonder how often we’ve tried to love our neighbors… but realized our neighbors are pretty far outside our comfort zone. I wonder how often we’ve been so grateful for this church… but we haven’t invited a friend. I wonder how often we’ve been grateful for God’s abundant grace… but wanted to keep it for ourselves. I wonder how often we’ve heard the stories of Jesus… but we haven’t told anybody why they mean so much to us.
At the end of worship this past Sunday, after the acolytes had been commissioned and the candles on the communion table extinguished during the last hymn, Charlie walked down the aisle in front of me, carrying the light of Christ. At the door to the sanctuary, he glanced at me. I nodded, and he grinned, and together we walked all the way to the front door of the church and out into the morning sunshine. All the way outside, out to the world.