Somethings never get old; seeing your whole congregation in a dimly lit sanctuary, singing Morning Star, and holding a beeswax candle with red paper wrapped around the bottom is one of them. It is a Christmas Eve tradition that has started well over 250 years ago and is still a central part of many Moravian Christmas celebrations today.
The candle, composed of a beeswax candlestick and red ribbon wrapped around the bottom, is a symbol of the light Jesus brought into the world. Beeswax is said to be one of the purest types of wax and represents the purity of Christ and the red ribbon symbolizes the blood of Christ. The little flame resembles the sacrifices of Christ, giving its life as it burned. These candles are distributed to everyone in the congregation near the end of the service filling the sanctuary with light.
During this time, a young voice appears as “Morning Star, O Cheering Sight” begins to be sung. It is a Moravian call and response hymn that is sung every year during the Christmas Eve service by a member of the congregation. With the candle’s in hand, we sing out, “fill our hearts with light divine” as the final line to the song, inviting Christ to become a light in our lives.
The whole congregation joins together singing during the last hymn and raises the beeswax candles, filling the sanctuary with the light Jesus has brought into the world. Leaving church on Christmas Eve is unlike any other time we leave church. We take the light from the candle and use it to guide us through the rest of the night and into the new year.
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” Matthew 5:16
Written by Madison Figiel