Yesterday as I entered my prayer space, I lit a candle. I use a little votive candle to remind myself, visually, of the presence of the Divine with me. I immediately noticed that the flame was very small: the wick was almost spent. I thought about blowing it out and replacing it but decided to leave it. I was thinking that on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, it was apropos that the light would be small and hard to see. The disciples were in a space of little light in the time between Jesus’ crucifixion and his resurrection. So I left it burning: a tiny flicker where usually a tall, happy flame dances.
During my prayer time, I was thinking about God sending Jesus and how I get caught on that language and imagery. I think of one person sending another person. I think of Abraham intending to sacrifice Isaac. But God isn’t like that. In sending the Son, the Divine sent Self. It wasn’t a father willing to sacrifice a son, it was the Divine sacrificing the Divine. Jesus was Divinity embodied. And then I looked up and saw that tiny flame still holding on, still burning. It got me thinking about incarnation. Even a tiny flame is still entirely flame, still entirely its true self, but on a very small scale. This tiny flame seemed to give me a picture of the personhood/divinity of Jesus. It is the same substance, the same essence, as a roaring forest fire. Contained, restrained in a way a forest fire is not, yet still entirely fire. Jesus on earth was the same substance, the same essence as the Creator of the universe. Contained, restrained in a way the Creator was not, yet still entirely Divine.
On the original Good Friday, it seemed that that tiny flame had gone out for good, but days later it flared to life again, only this time on a new scale. It was no longer on a small, contained wick, but free to burn where it wished. And Jesus’s resurrected flame set alight the flame of the Life-Giving Spirit to burn not only everywhere but in everyone. The tiny, flickering, barely-a-fire flame ignited the world.
Photo: Barry Holtslander