At Black Springs Baptist Church, as in many houses of worship, the lighting of
the "Advent Candle" is a long-standing tradition; our church family participates
in the ceremony with reverence, pride and joyful celebration. We look forward
to the Sundays leading up to Christmas with great anticipation.
One memorable year, Ms. Edith Hardage was scheduled to light the final candle,
the candle that represents the Christ Child. As the service began I realized
that Ms. Edith was not in her usual place and I wondered what had happened.
During the opening hymn, our pastor came down from the pulpit, came straight
toward us, and whispered, Ms. Edith cannot be here today; could you and Otto
please substitute for her and light the final Advent candle?
I was delighted at the invitation but somewhat hesitant to accept such an
awesome responsibility; I paused for a moment and then I nodded yes. Pastor
Ellis Taff was relieved and pleased; and said he would signal us when to come
forward for the ceremony, and then returned to the pulpit.
We quietly decided that I was doing the speaking part and that Otto was going to
light the candle; he was apprehensive but there was no turning back now because
the service was proceeding and our part was arriving soon. All we could do was
pretend to be composed and hope for the best. With no practice and little time
to plan the presentation we went down front and I presented my portion as Otto
located the box of wooden matched that were placed there specifically for the
I concluded with a prayer and turned to Otto to signal him to light the candle;
he already had a match in his hand and I heard it strike. I saw the match burst
into flame but suddenly the match was not lighting the candle. Anticipation and
excitement had caused him to apply too much pressure and the match flew right
out of his hands, through the air and landed on the carpet.
Instantly, my mouth opened, my eyes shut closed, and I silently prayed for a
miracle. In an instant I visualized our grandchildren remembering the Christmas
that Papa burned a giant hole in the church carpet or even worse, the
unfortunate holiday when Mimi and Papa caused a fire at their church.
I opened my eyes and saw what I will always remember as my Christmas miracle;
Otto stooped down and with one fluid motion, picked up the burning match from
the carpet, touched it to the candlewick and extinguished the match. In an
instant the Christ candle was burning brightly and there was not one sign of a
blemish on the carpet. I remain relieved that our presentation did not cause an
We wish you a Merry Christmas from our family to yours; happy birthday to Jesus
Christ, my Lord and Savior. May your Christmas be filled with love, joy, and
memories that you can share with family and friends.
Brenda S. Brown