by Bill Tenny-Brittian

In the early church (as well as in Judaism), the home was a sacred place. It was in a very real sense a refuge from the rough-n-tumble outside world. The home was also the center of a Christian family’s faith life. It was the sanctuary where the presence of the Spirit could be counted on.

One of the easiest steps to create a home that is a sanctuary where the family experiences the presence of God is to create a simple visual reminder that Jesus is in residence with you. Using a Christ Candle is probably one of the most significant and ancient reminders of his presence.

A Christ Candle is simply a lit candle that is set in a common area where the family can see it (nearly always a Christ Candle is a white pillar candle). The dining table is a common place, though you could place your burning candle burning on a mantel, a window ledge, or if you want to get fancy, hanging on a ceiling-chain (like some churches do to signify the presence of the “host” or communion bread).

To use your Christ Candle effectively, light it when you or your family is in residence. You may want to develop a ritual for its lighting such as pronouncing a prayer above the wick and flame as you light it. You could use something like this:

We give you thanks, O God of the Universe, that you are present in our lives and in our home. With this flame remind us that your Son, Jesus, came to live with us and within us and that He is present even in this place. Amen.

One note about candles. The first rule is not to leave them unattended. But there’s a second rule that many people are not aware of: buy candles that have lead-free wicks. Many candle makers outside of the US use lead in their wicking that, when burnt, releases lead molecules into the air. To get around this, make sure you either buy US made candles or that they are labeled that they do not use lead. Another alternative is to use oil candles, available at most specialty candle shops.