The candles we use during worship in the Sanctuary are oil-burning candles. By using this type of candles, we can prevent wax drips and use the same candles year after year. We simply have to fill them with oil. The secret is that the oil in the candles is not enough to last for three services, so someone has to refill them in between services. The tops of the candles unscrew, and the oil is poured in from the top. It’s a simple enough process, but there is one big trick. The candle tops are made of brass. Brass is metal. Metal gets HOT when it’s been exposed to flame for an hour. The heat also causes the metal to expand and not unscrew. The answer to this double-fold problem is simple: wait for the candles to cool before attempting to unscrew the tops.
Guess who didn’t do that this week? If you guessed me, you guessed correctly. It’s not the first time that I’ve tried to start the process too early, but it was the worst. I burned my palm and thumb badly enough that it brought me to tears, and I stood in the sacristy and cried for a few minutes—partly from pain and partly from anger at myself because I know better. I know that I need to wait. I wasn’t even pressed for time. I just wanted to rush to the next thing I needed to do on Sunday morning. I am not good at being patient and waiting, especially when I know something else is on the horizon.
This week, we enter into the season of Lent, a time of preparation before Easter. We know that Easter is coming, but we don’t get to rush through the next 40 days and get there faster. Lent forces us to wait, forces us to sit in the not yet. The waiting does not have to be idle. Just as I could have done something else and come back to the candles, we can fill our Lent with spiritual practices. We may choose to fast or to try a new way of prayer. I hope that you will also consider joining us for our weekly Lent dinners on Sunday nights. Let’s use this time to grow as disciples and to wait in anticipation, not frustration.
“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch for the morning.”
(Psalm 130: 5-6)