The history of Christingle can be traced back to December 1747 to a man by the name of the Reverend John de Watteville. He was the pastor of the Moravian Church in Germany.
He was keen to teach the children in his church some key principles from the scriptures, which hopefully they would never forget.
He had a number of things he wanted to get across to the children and his congregation that he considered essential to the gospel, and he came up with the idea of creating a visual illustration that the children had to literally make, which hopefully would help everyone to remember four key things in particular.
Here are the four things…
1. He wanted in particular to impress upon His folk that God sent His Son into the world to save the world from their sins.
2. He wanted to show them in particular that Jesus could only bring us forgiveness through His death on the Cross – and the importance of Him shedding His blood.
3. He wanted his flock to particularly know about how God has created the different seasons in life and how God provides for us through every different season.
4. And He particularly wanted his congregation to know that Jesus was the light of the world and that He had called each one of them to shine a light for Him in their individual worlds.
So he came up with this visual aid, which he called ‘the Christingle’ that represented everything he wanted his congregation to know and remember. In fact he created a whole service around it. It had the desired effect, and people loved the service and the presence of God that came when they all lit their candles and held them up before God. It wasn’t long before the other Moravian churches also adopted the service during the advent period just before Christmas.
The Christingle Service was introduced and became popular in the UK in the 1960s amongst the Anglican Churches, when the Bible Society promoted the service amongst churches to highlight and garnish support for the great work they do all around the world with the most disadvantaged children.
1. The Orange represents the world. A world that God loves with an inexpressible and unfathomable love. So much so that the most famous verse in the whole bible records…
John 3 v16: ‘For God so loved the world that gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.’
The world and everything therein – He designed, He created and it was He who brought it into being.
Colossians 1 v 16 says: ‘For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him.’
Our God loves the world He created, however, He hates what the world has become – He hates the world’s system that imprisons, traps, enslaves and leads people away from Him and away from having a relationship with His Son.. And that’s why we are instructed ‘to be in this world but not of the world!’
2. The Red Ribbon represents the love of Christ through His blood that was shed.
Leviticus 17 v 11: ‘for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.’
Hebrews 9 v 22 says: ‘the law requires the shedding of blood for cleansing, for without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.’
Ephesians 1 v 7 says…. ‘In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.’
Do you remember that well known old hymn – the question it asks is still very poignant, ‘would you be free from your burden of sin? There is power in the blood, there is wonder working power in the blood of the lamb.’
And that reminds me of that other rather personal and pointed yet all important question posed in that other old and well known hymn, you know the one that goes… ‘ have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power are you washed in the blood of the lamb?’
3. The Sticks and Sweets symbolise the four different seasons and speak of God’s great provision for us in each of the different seasons of life that we go through.
Genesis 8 v 22 says…’As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.’
When it comes to the provision of God.
1 Chronicles 29 v 14 says: ‘who are we that we should be able to give as generously as we do? All things come from you, O Lord and we have given you only what comes from your hand in the first place.’
His provision to us is indescribable.
And as if God hasn’t already given us enough! Just look at what Romans 8 v 32. It tells us that God has so much more he wants to give us… It says: ‘He who did not spare His own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?’
Thank God for His provision over our lives.
4. The candle speaks of Jesus being the Light of the world who brings hope to those who live in darkness.
In John 8 v 12 Jesus declares: ‘I am the light of the world!’
He is the only one who can illuminate life and make sense of it all.
And all our candles lit together speak of the fact that together God expects us to dispel the darkness in the world in which we live by shining brightly for Him and radiating something of His presence and Glory.
Matthew 5: vs 14 -15 says this of us, God’s people: ‘You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.’
Isaiah 60 vs 1-3 exhorts each one of us who love the Lord to ‘Arise and shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.’
You know, for some reason it is so easy to forget that the glory of the Lord is risen upon each one of us who are born again by the Spirit of God. Somehow we forget who it is who actually lives within us and we fail to radiate the majesty of one who lives in our hearts.
The story goes of a man and a woman walking along a path in the Scottish hills. Their conversation had turned to a mutual acquaintance. The man said, ‘She’s lovely and she has what I call a radiant personality.’ ‘That’s right,’ agreed the woman ‘but why do you think she’s like that?’ They continued to walk down the path for a few moments, and then, pointing across the rolling hills, he said: ‘See that wonderful old castle? You know, when I was a small boy, my playmates and I loved to sit on the bank and look across at it. We could tell what was going on there by the number of lights that were on in the castle. If only the family were present, just a few lights would be seen. When guests were entertained, there would be many lights, and the castle/palace became truly beautiful when it was lit up.’
He continued: ‘once I remember a member of the royal family visited the castle, and you should have seen the lights! I have seldom seen such brilliance. There was light everywhere and you could see it for miles.’
The couple’s discussion wandered back to the acquaintance that they had been talking about. ‘I think the only way her radiant personality can be explained is that she must be constantly entertaining a Royal Guest in her life.’
‘I think you’re right’ he said, ‘I think your right – she seems to light up everywhere she goes. Mind you if she is entertaining the King of Kings she’s bound to light up her world – isn’t she.’
Christingle reminds us of who is actually resident in our lives and who we are shining for.
In closing, I wonder if anyone here remembers that old, old chorus that used to be sung in many pentecostal services years ago. The chorus that says …
‘Joy is the flag flowing high from the castle of my heart …
From the castle of my heart
From the castle of my heart
Joy is the flag flowing high from the castle of my heart
For the King is in residence there!!!!
So let it fly in the sky, let the whole world know
Let the whole world know, let the whole world know
So let it fly in the sky – let the whole world know
THAT THE KING IS IN RESIDENCE THERE!
Let me finish by saying our Christingle service this year acts as a timely reminder to each of us to – ‘Arise and Shine, for your light has come – the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.’
So whatever it takes beloved believers – arise and shine!