"Advent" Candles, circumstance or will worship

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NaphtaliPress

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Staff member
I know this already has come up this month but this was a Facebook memory so I thought I'd post it on PB too.
Advent candles.
Opinion: A candle is either a circumstance or a part of worship. If a candle is for lighting it is a mere indifferent circumstance. If it is only used for special times (and that being times long steeped in will worship), has a special name, is invested with some kind of meaning and there are actions aka ceremonies attached to it, it is not a circumstance; thus it is a part of the worship, and none of those things being prescribed by God’s Word, it is will worship.
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
What if the candles were lit prior to the call to worship?

As a former PCA Pastor, that sounds like a very PCA thing to do so one doesn't get in trouble. "Well, technically, we didn't light it during worship..." But in the end, you are lighting the candle for worship without it being a circumstance.
 
U

Username3000

Guest
1. What if the candle is only used for lighting at certain times? No special ceremony attached to it, and no special name.

2. What if the congregation is gathered at night and goes outside of the church building and sings worship songs, with candles as the outdoor light source?
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Why is it used only at certain times? Is it really just part of the broader added ceremony of adding times and seasons of our own devising? If it's for light, one can argue the wisdom of that maybe with kids, or the effectiveness in weather; but again, why? Is it because its December and a certain pretended holy day is near? These types of things are not done in a vacuum. These things are driven by underlying presumptions that there is something special about the time because we say there is. We add special light, music, way of doing things, to underscore that belief.
1. What if the candle is only used for lighting at certain times? No special ceremony attached to it, and no special name.

2. What if the congregation is gathered at night and goes outside of the church building and sings worship songs, with candles as the outdoor light source?
 
U

Username3000

Guest
Why is it used only at certain times? Is it really just part of the broader added ceremony of adding times and seasons of our own devising? If it's for light, one can argue the wisdom of that maybe with kids, or the effectiveness in weather; but again, why? Is it because its December and a certain pretended holy day is near? These types of things are not done in a vacuum. These things are driven by underlying presumptions that there is something special about the time because we say there is. We add special light, music, way of doing things, to underscore that belief.

Okay. I’m just trying to think if there are any situations where it’s not so black and white, and you know much more than me about it.

What if candles are used as replacements for lightbulbs? Okay in June, not okay in December?

What if lanterns are used in place of lightbulbs?

When does a light source change from circumstance to element? Only in December?
 

James 1689

Puritan Board Freshman
If it is only used for special times (and that being times long steeped in will worship), has a special name, is invested with some kind of meaning and there are actions aka ceremonies attached to it, it is not a circumstance; thus it is a part of the worship,
I agree with your thought on this subject. As a former SBC pastor, we had a room full of seasonal worship props. There was the cross with a purple piece of fabric for Easter. Candles for Christmas, and of course the fall festival was its own unique beast with Pumpkins and cornucopia for the remembrance table. These are nothing more than sermon illustrations that are used to set the ambience of a particular holiday or worship service. No different than when a church turns down the lights and plays music to create a mood for worship. These take away from the sufficiency of scripture and try to motivate or persuade the congregation into worship not relying on the Holy Spirit. I once had someone tell me they could not get their worship on because we sang hymns.
 
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Username3000

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I once had someone tell me they could not get their worship on because we sang hymns.
Same argument used by EP’ers. Interesting. I didn’t realize they had anything in common with seeker-sensitive evangelical “churches”.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
I think the issue is choosing candle light, particularly the last 100 years in Protestant churches, was/is to make the worship special. If it is a regular lighting option in a culture that is not associated with such thinking, the choice becomes a non issue. But we in first world countries only talk about candle light in December. So it is sort of a mute point. No one does xmas in July but the stores. Candles are part of the broader over arching added ceremony of xmas or Advent.

Okay. I’m just trying to think if there are any situations where it’s not so black and white, and you know much more than me about it.

What if candles are used as replacements for lightbulbs? Okay in June, not okay in December?

What if lanterns are used in place of lightbulbs?

When does a light source change from circumstance to element? Only in December?
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
Same argument used by EP’ers. Interesting. I didn’t realize they had anything in common with seeker-sensitive evangelical “churches”.
What EPers say that they can't "get their worship on" because of hymns?

I have to assume your comment is intended as a joke, but it's hard to determine the tone. It comes off as an uncharitable jab.
 
U

Username3000

Guest
What EPers say that they can't "get their worship on" because of hymns?

I have to assume your comment is intended as a joke, but it's hard to determine the tone. It comes off as an uncharitable jab.

Not a joke in the slightest. EP’ers don’t worship by singing old hymns, and nor do a lot of seeker-sensitive churches. Just an interesting thought. I don’t see the need for offense. None was intended.

I think the issue is choosing candle light, particularly the last 100 years in Protestant churches, was/is to make the worship special. If it is a regular lighting option in a culture that is not associated with such thinking, the choice becomes a non issue. But we in first world countries only talk about candle light in December. So it is sort of a mute point. No one does xmas in July but the stores. Candles are part of the broader over arching added ceremony of xmas or Advent.

Understood.

If the Lord’s Day fell on December 24, and the power went out for the evening service, would you feel comfortable using candles?
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Of course; why not? It is necessary for light at that point. They could even be old left over advent candles from the church's unReformed past if that was all that could be had.
Not a joke in the slightest. EP’ers don’t worship by singing old hymns, and nor do a lot of seeker-sensitive churches. Just an interesting thought. I don’t see the need for offense. None was intended.



Understood.

If the Lord’s Day fell on December 24, and the power went out for the evening service, would you feel comfortable using candles?
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
Not a joke in the slightest. EP’ers don’t worship by singing old hymns, and nor do a lot of seeker-sensitive churches. Just an interesting thought. I don’t see the need for offense. None was intended
If you do really think that we sing psalms only because we "can't get our worship on" with hymns, you are quite uninformed about the EP position, and you would do well to learn a bit about it before making hasty remarks.

Indeed, the comparison between EP and seeker-sensitive churches is an odd one. One aims to be true to Scripture, the other aims to please.
 
U

Username3000

Guest
Of course; why not? It is necessary for light at that point. They could even be old left over advent candles from the church's unReformed past if that was all that could be had.
That has all the makings of a slanderous Pulpit & Pen article waiting to happen.

“Lakewood Presbyterian Church Holds Candlelit Christmas Eve Service.”
 
U

Username3000

Guest
If you do really think that we sing psalms only because we "can't get our worship on" with hymns, you are quite uninformed about the EP position, and you would do well to learn a bit about it before making hasty remarks.

Indeed, the comparison between EP and seeker-sensitive churches is an odd one. One aims to be true to Scripture, the other aims to please.
Do you realize how easily offended you are being?

I obviously didn’t mean that the exact words and the exact grammar from that post are the exact way that someone holding to EP would express themselves.

Stop getting hung up on the “can’t get our worship on” part. I was commenting on the shared general dislike of old hymns by two diametrically opposed groups. The fact that for many people the EP position is arrived at after searching the Scriptures only adds to the point.

It is you who needs to watch before making hasty remarks.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
That has all the makings of a slanderous Pulpit & Pen article waiting to happen.

“Lakewood Presbyterian Church Holds Candlelit Christmas Eve Service.”
I haven't read much of them but that's sort of the MO of a lot of slander. I've been at LPC since 2007 and at least since then I know they have not had an xmas eve or special services. The xmas nod has minimized down now to a few innocuous decorations and some stubborn traditional hymns. I'll know this week if we get an advent sermon or not. The pastor is not a big church calendar guy. If he wants to do a resurrection sermon or nativity sermon at those times he does; if he doesn't he doesn't. He knows my views (sister's husband).
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
If the Lord’s Day fell on December 24, and the power went out for the evening service, would you feel comfortable using candles?

Not me. People these days don't know how to use candles. But cellphone flashlight apps would probably do in a pinch.

An aside on the candle-safety issue. Back in the late 90s we attended an evangelical church on the island where we lived. They always had the standard Christmas eve candle service.

2:30 AM after one such service, the church building was fully engulfed in flames. It turns out someone forgot to blow the last candle out. It was in a metal candle holder until the little flame got low enough to reach the metal. Wax melted and what was left of the wick fell to the side and touched off one of the carol pamphlets. Away it all went.
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
Do you realize how easily offended you are being?
Offended? Not at all. I pointed out that your comment appeared uncharitable. Personal offence has nothing to do with it.
I obviously didn’t mean that the exact words and the exact grammar from that post are the exact way that someone holding to EP would express themselves.
That wasn't obvious, I think, since you said it was the "same argument" (which, to be plain, it is not).
It is you who needs to watch before making hasty remarks.
I have noticed that you have written some apparently unkind or uncharitable comments. ("PB is just poison sometimes" is one recent example.) I would urge you to have greater care concerning matters with which you disagree.

I'll add that this is an internet forum, and tone is not as straighforward as in spoken language.
 

W.C. Dean

Puritan Board Sophomore
This advent season is the first that I've been Reformed at all, and also the first (consequently) I've had a relatively negative view of 'enhanced' worship time or special holiday services, like the candlelight service our church is having on Christmas Eve. I'll point out, this is not my OPC church, rather an SBC church I attend with my mother on Sabbath mornings. The pastor is Reformed, a dear friend, and has mentored me, but we break on a few issues, namely baptism and worship.

I actually won't be participating in any candle lighting this year however, because I'll be upstairs changing the slides for all the Christmas carols we'll be singing! Ideal? No, but I signed up for that job long before I ever had any convictions about Psalm-singing and worship services.

Mr. Coldwell, do you have any advice on relaying how I feel about a special candlelight service to my pastor? I'd like to understand a little bit more of the objection to it, beyond the "it's not a prescribed service in Scripture", which my Reformed Baptist pastor doesn't care about, he espouses John Frame's view of worship. Thank you, and have a happy and merry normal December month!
 
U

Username3000

Guest
Offended? Not at all. I pointed out that your comment appeared uncharitable. Personal offence has nothing to do with it.

That wasn't obvious, I think, since you said it was the "same argument" (which, to be plain, it is not).

I have noticed that you have written some apparently unkind or uncharitable comments. ("PB is just poison sometimes" is one recent example.) I would urge you to have greater care concerning matters with which you disagree.

I'll add that this is an internet forum, and tone is not as straighforward as in spoken language.

Please forgive me. I will try to be mindful of this moving forward.
 

Eoghan

Puritan Board Senior
When Luther popularised candles on trees did he do so at home privately or in church?
 

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Brimstone
Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. While not holy, it is helpful. I thank God for the cultural occurrence that enables me to have a very natural segue into the application of spiritual truth to human malaise brought on and accentuated by the cultural push for the “Christmas spirit.”
Of course we light Advent candles - and prior to the call to worship during announcements, and regardless of what naysayers say, that’s a perfectly legitimate practice.
 

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Senior
While not holy, it is helpful.
Agreed.
Of course we light Advent candles - and prior to the call to worship during announcements, and regardless of what naysayers say, that’s a perfectly legitimate practice.
Disagreed.

What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.—Deuteronomy 12:32

The acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation or any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture.—WCF 21.1; BCF 22.1
 
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Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
Please forgive me. I will try to be mindful of this moving forward.
I appreciate this gracious reply, and I'll add that I am at least as guilty of uncharitable language here. There's one member of the PB to whom I owe thanks for pointing it out in a private message.
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. While not holy, it is helpful. I thank God for the cultural occurrence that enables me to have a very natural segue into the application of spiritual truth to human malaise brought on and accentuated by the cultural push for the “Christmas spirit.”
Of course we light Advent candles - and prior to the call to worship during announcements, and regardless of what naysayers say, that’s a perfectly legitimate practice.
That is an opinion without support. What of elements and circumstances (per the OP)?
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
Pastor Ben,

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. While not holy, it is helpful.
Are you not making it holy by having a full worship service and adding candle lighting during announcements?

Of course we light Advent candles - and prior to the call to worship during announcements, and regardless of what naysayers say, that’s a perfectly legitimate practice.
Would you also be willing to light Incense before the the call? Why or why not?
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Junior
Mr. Coldwell, do you have any advice on relaying how I feel about a special candlelight service to my pastor?

I can tell you what I did. I quoted Chris's original post and sent it to my pastor and elder. Whether they disagree or agree doesn't change the clear logic of the syllogism.
 
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