I taught kindergarten for a few years at Stone Bridge School in Napa, a Waldorf public charter school where my children all attended; I was a one-to-one aid for a little girl with Down Syndrome. When children would exhibit behaviors that made their parents want to explain, or apologize, and they’d fumble through this with me, I would always say, “Don’t worry…I can see their shining light.” This was true. I wanted the parents to know that I would continue to hold their child in light, and look for the divine spark in them, even when they wouldn’t line up, put their shoes on, settle down, etc. Later, when I then taught at the high school level at Justin Siena (2014-2018), I remembered this. The darkness gets a little stronger sometimes in the life of a high schooler, and a few times brought up the darkness in me — judgment, impatience, indifference, exasperation and other reactions and feelings that isolate and abandon — and I knew I could not mentor or teach a child whose light I could not see and no longer wanted to find. This only happened once, and I spent as little time near this student as possible, until I could find it in him (and in myself) again. “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness will not over come it,” says the Gospel of John. This is elemental, and powerful, in a world divided and too often fixed on the dark.

Light has an important role in our church celebrations. The children and youth light candles each week in their respective spaces here at Grace, inviting and remembering the presence of Jesus there. In the Atrium candles are lit each time scripture is read, and there is a special candle we light to represent the resurrection in the City of Jerusalem presentation.

In the early church, candles were necessary as a means to see inside the dark churches, but they remain on our altar today as a symbol of Christ. In fact, if you ask one of the children why we light candles they will immediately say the light IS Jesus. To them, there’s no separation between the symbolism and the “real presence” of the Light of the World. 

This Sunday, we will gather together as a church community to celebrate the light of the risen Christ; the light that we carry in our hearts and into the world. The Liturgy of the Light is both a solemn and joyful liturgy that models the Easter Vigil with a procession, blessing of the Paschal candle, scripture readings and songs, and lots of candle lighting, ending with each individual receiving a candle. It is a beloved celebration to the children year after year. 

Please join the children as they lead this time of prayer, scripture reading, song and light during the 10 am service this Sunday in the sanctuary. 

In Light,

Sarah Christopher

Associate Pastor