The symbolism of light has long been used in religious practice in all traditions of the world. Burning votive candles in particular for prayer are a common sight in most Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, as well as in Protestant churches in Lutheran, Episcopal, Anglican, and so on. Burlingame United Methodist Church in the Peninsula has a practice of lighting candles in worship for any worshipper who wants to light a candle in prayer for someone or something.
The act of lighting a candle signifies our prayer, which is offered in faith to God. Lighting a candle for someone or social concerns is a way to both extend your prayers and show solidarity with the person or a social issue (such as gun violence, war in Ukraine, global warming, mass extinction of species, voting rights, food insecurity for people living in the margin, the church, etc.) the prayer is being made on behalf of. With the light of faith, we petition our Lord in prayer. You can also light a candle for yourself for the upcoming surgery, job interview, the final exam in school, health concerns, and so on.
Lighting a candle also shows reverence and our desire to remain present in prayer even as we continue on our day. The faithful also light candles as a sign of gratitude to God for answered prayers.
Starting Lent on Ash Wednesday on February 22, 2023 we will be introducing rows of votive candles in the narthex in front of the Theotokos Icon of Mary, the Mother of God tenderly holding child Jesus in her bosom. You are invited to light a prayer candle as you enter the sanctuary for worship.
Moreover, during the observance of 40 days of Lent, I will start the Lenten Sermon Series: “Rendezvous with God” on the First Sunday of Lent on Feb. 26. Let us journey together in devotion to God during Lent as we sink ever deeper into the mystery of God.
Grace and Peace,