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notre dame montreal

Christingle address Rev Dr Sam Cappleman

Advent 2010

Reflecting God’s Glory in Advent

Christingle – meaning 'Christ Light' – is a symbol of the Christian Faith. Christingle originated from the Moravian church in Germany and was established in 1467.  It was used in a service n Marienborn on Germany in 1747.  Have a look at the Children’s society web site
For many years churches all over the world have made Christingles to remind them that Christ is the light who came into the world at Christmas.

The Christingle orange represents the world, John reminds us that ‘Jesus was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognise Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him’. (Jn 1 v 10 – 11).  And God’s first covenant was with Noah and all of His creation.  He continues that covenant with all the world with, and through, us.

The red ribbon of the Christingle represents the blood of Jesus which was shed for us so that our sins may be forgiven. ‘But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from every sin’. (1 Jn 1 v 7). 

One larger retail chain has just sent me an e-mail which said, ‘It’s all about presents’.  Sometimes that’s just how Christmas feels; especially as we worry about how much we should spend on presents for each other – have we spent enough?  Did we spend too much?  At Christmas God gave the World the highest value present He could, His Son.  In turn His Son gave the highest value present He could at Easter. His life.

The fruits and sweets on the four skewers represent God’s gifts to us, the fruits of the earth and the four seasons. ‘As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease’. (Gen 8 v 22).

The lighted candle, pushed into the centre of the orange, represents Christ, the light of the world. ‘He [Jesus] said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life”.’ (John 8 v 12).

As it says in the Benedictus, ‘In the tender compassion of our God, the dawn (or dayspring from on high shall break upon us’.  That’s advent – being prepared for that dawn, not getting prepared.
And under the candle, between it and the orange, we have a piece of tin foil. 
As we make our Christingles we take a piece of tin foil and wrap it round the candle before we put the candle in the orange.  It’s where the world of the orange and the candle come together; it’s at the join, the interface, the place where they meet.
The foil is a good representation of us as Christians.  We too stand at the interface of Christ and the world, the place where Christ and the world come together. 
We are one of the ways in which Christ comes into contact with the world and the world comes into contact with Christ
The foil has another function too. It’s there to reflect the candle light, just as we are called to reflect the light of Christ.  If the foil was a perfectly flat mirror then it would reflect the light perfectly.  But it’s not, it’s a bit crumpled
As humans, we’re not perfect, were a bit crumpled, and the image of Christ we reflect may not always be perfect in the way that we’d wish.  But we are created in God’s image, and we reflect the glory of His Son Jesus.  ‘And we, who with unveiled faces, all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness, with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit’, 1 Cor 3 v 18
Not only created in His image, to reflect His glory, but being continually transformed, changed, by that same glory, into His likeness.  As we reflect more and more of his image into the world, we become more like Him.  The more we do it, the better we get!  Doing it, as John the Baptist would say in our readings today, in the here and now, not in the future to come
It’s a glory and a light which we reflect in our lives this Christmas, and all the year through, a light for which being prepared is part of Advent.  It’s a gift beyond value, for the whole of God’s creation as we experience His covenant relationship with us once more through the birth and life of Christ this Advent and Christmas.