When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will
never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 (NIV)
One of the wonderful Christmas traditions in the Western church is the Christingle. Christingle means “Christ-Light.” It was introduced in a Christmas Eve service in a Moravian church in Marienborn, Germany, in 1747. Bishop John de Watteville who was leading the service gave each of the children a lighted candle tied with a red ribbon to symbolise the coming of the Saviour. Handing out the candles he said, “Christ has kindled a flame in each heart which keeps burning to His joy and our happiness.”
In more recent years the symbolism of the Christingle has been expanded to include an orange representing the world; a red ribbon tied around the orange representing salvation in Christ; skewered fruits and candies pushed into the orange representing the gifts we receive from God; and a candle stuck into the centre of the orange representing the light of the world, Jesus Christ. These arrangements can be prepared on a plate or in a basket.
The Christingle service is usually held in the evening and, with lights dimmed, the candles in the Christingle arrangement are lit, a procession enacted and the symbolism of the Christingle explained with appropriate Scriptures being read. At the conclusion of the service the Christingle arrangements are taken home by the children or given to the widows, the poor, or those whom the community of faith want to bless.
Some years ago I participated in a Christingle service where another dramatic element had been added: An opportunity was given, to each person who’d made a Christingle arrangement, to share the story of their encounter and relationship with Jesus Christ. It was a delightful supplement; weaving together both the Story of Jesus and the ways in which our stories intersect with, and become part of, His Story.