A Smoking Wick or a Burning Flame?

A Smoking Wick or a Burning Flame?

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I love the Advent season with all of its symbols. Garlands. Wreaths. Calendars. Creches. And lights.

Lights. Jesus the Light of the world. Candles for the season grace every room in our house. Old-fashioned, multi-colored bulbs encircle the tree standing sentinel at our front windows. Since no lights adorn our property outside, I like to think that people driving by see the beauty shining inside, while in the spiritual dimension, I hope that Jesus in my inmost being radiates His Light to a cold, dark world.

My favorite symbol of light and life is the advent wreath, four candles in a forever circle surrounded by greenery. Mine has one pink and three purple tapers, and a white pillar sits in the center of the ring. Each week as we add another virtue to the Advent wreath my soul fills with additional light.

While there are several traditions that assign meanings to each candle, I prefer what the Lutheran Church instituted long ago: faith, peace, joy, hope, and the white Christmas candle represents Christ’s love. Each week as we add another virtue to the Advent wreath my soul fills with additional light.

advent wreath

Every once in a while, we end up with a dud candle. For some reason, it smokes but won’t flame. I can fix it if I dig into the center with a knife, give the wick more length, and then scrape off the extra wax that smothered it.

The failure of the dud candle kindles some questions. Am I a smoking wick or a brilliant flame for Christ? How well am I lighting my world? Can people easily see Jesus in me, or do I give off the smoky scent of a snuffed candle, barely offering residual warmth? Does God have to do some painful digging and scraping to restore me to what I ought to be?

This advent season as we struggle against the whirlwind of Christmas busy-ness, let’s take some moments to step aside, make sure our wicks are trimmed and that we are His Life and Light to each person we meet.

About Linda Sammaritan

For years, Linda Sammaritan tried to be perfect wife, perfect mother, perfect teacher and crammed so many activities into her days that twenty-four hours couldn’t possibly hold them all – perfectly. She now lives by the motto, “relentlessly eliminate hurry.” Newly retired, Linda keeps the freezer packed with homemade take-out meals for her full- time working husband when she travels to visit children, grandchildren, siblings, and Mom. Read more about her faith and writings at www.lindasammaritan.com.


  1. This is such a GREAT post! I love it. What wonderful imagery. I feel like I need to go examine myself. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. Thank you, Toni, for your encouraging words. Another way to be Light in this world!

  3. Wow, Linda, I just love this analogy! This post so much reflects the love of Jesus and how we are meant to let His light shine through us.

  4. I’m glad the analogy spoke to you, Patti. And the best thing about it is that Jesus doesn’t allow us to burn down to nubs. He constantly renews and strengthens us. We can be forever candles!

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