“Creating Space for Hope”
Read Ephesians 1:15-23
Everything feels a little disordered this Christmas — parties are small or non-existent, families are separated, and many of us feel isolated and alone. Of course, we aren’t the first and we won’t be the last to experience a hard holiday season. Wars have separated loved ones in the past century, pandemics have left their mark on the world, and each of us has probably had hard Christmas’s due to the loss of loved ones or the grief of things not going as we planned. But most of us are collectively feeling that grief this December — we’re a little more weary, a little more tired, a little more aware of how broken this world is — and with this new reality comes a need to re-learn the lessons of hope.
I love to practice the sabbath, and I have started a new tradition recently of lighting a candle on Friday night to usher in a day of rest and enjoyment. I love this process for many reasons, the least of which is that I love candles, but one of the things I love the most is that this practice symbolizes hope. After a long week of working and doing, the flickering of the candle reminds me to create space in my home for hope to win out. I watch the wax begin to melt and the shadows mingle with the light on my walls, and it reminds me that the smallest flicker of light can be enough to change the atmosphere of a room.
Try it — turn out all your lights, close the curtains, and experience the feeling of darkness. Then, when the darkness has set in, light a candle, or two, or six. The room feels different, doesn’t it? Somehow, what only a few seconds ago felt lonely and drab now feels warm and peaceful. Add to the candle the lights of a Christmas tree and you have yourself a cozy winter evening. This is the power of hope — it need not be dramatic or exceptional, and often it looks quite ordinary, but it changes the atmosphere. Focusing our eyes on the light of Jesus creates room in our hearts for a new vision.
This week, take time to light a candle and focus on this text from Ephesians. In verse 18 we read Paul’s prayer for this church, “that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.” When we choose to light a candle to create space for hope, we are allowing God to change our vision and give us a new lens to understand the world. We can choose to stay in the dark, or we can choose to make room for Christ to light our way, even when we can’t see where the path is taking us.