Around the seminary in various prayer chapels we have placed artificially glowing candles with LED lights in them. A little switch on the bottom starts the fake light and it shines steadily with dim glow and somewhat gentles the space. Even our advent candle wreath has the appropriate light switched on.
This is not altogether bad. A few Christmases ago an advent wreath caught on fire during the Christmas eve program. The platform was loaded with straw around a somewhat disheveled manger scene. Our daughter, Rachel, singing on the worship team saw the flame start and calmly picked up the whole stand by the pole and walked off stage toward the door. Her dad, Steve, jumped up and took it from her and carried it outside, now blazing afire. As the wreath burned it disintegrated into dropping fireballs, plopping onto his hand - but he didn't let go until he could throw it on the pavement. What is a good story could have been a disaster.
Potential tragedy not withstanding, the LED lights leave something to be desired. If you place them alongside a real candle you will immediately see the difference. The candle's light glows in a large halo, lighting the room more brightly than you would expect. The electronic light is just a glow, like a fading flashlight.
The reason we use the electronic candles, of course, is safety. I was thinking that some of us live a lot of our life with an electronic light glowing. We are still alive, and it is good enough, and above all - SAFE. In fact, this way is the easy way to live - disconnected from any real flame. But kind of sad, don't you think?
In talking with a young man who is graduating this week from the seminary and choosing his placement in a church, I urged him not to take the safest placement. Try yourself out - try God out. In fact, I told him (obviously still reflecting on our new safer candles), be sure, always that you have something in your life that could burn the house down.