What happens when faith dies?
Recently, “The Christmas Candle” was shown at the Plaza Theater. There is a risk when critiquing a movie; you might wind up in a place different from the author. But here goes! The majority of the story centers in a Victorian town named Gladbury, England. The wife and daughter of a minister died from a lethal form of Pneumonia. He prayed for their recovery; but God did not heal. In angst, he left the preaching ministry and found work with the Salvation Army; serving the poor and the destitute. Like Jonah, he fled from God because his prayer wasn’t granted as he wanted. Like Jonah, he wallowed in his own misunderstanding. By providence, a woman from his past found him and convinced the Preacher to return to Gladbury; to bring hope to a hopeless community. The church had become faithless because it had lost the message of the Bible – either from congregational failure or pastoral neglect. For many decades, God could not be found there. With his own faith-issues, the Pastor accepted this preaching task. Without God in their midst, the Church-people began to believe in a myth. According to legend, once every 25 years, an angel would select a certain candle from the local candle shop; that special light would grant a miracle to the lucky recipient; providing that person prayed. Just as we have done in our own human lives, the Church people took action into their own hands. By deception, each member got a candle in hopes that all would have a miracle. Their attempt failed, but through those human efforts, God began to work. When people started to pray, miracles began to happen. But in real life, God’s timing is both divine and providential: only then does he move in the world. God does not forget those who seek him but his answers only come when he is ready to meet our prayers. The moral conclusion is that God has always been the only source of light and restoration: when we give him praise for what he really is, he is willing to work in his world. The faithless of our days, live in a mythical fog – unaware of God’s true purpose in life. The story of this faithless, English church is a parallel of our own times when faith is not lived, believed or sought. Praise God, that prayer gives us hope and peace in our trials!