Saturday, February 24, 2018


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One of the weekly rituals performed each Sunday before worship service is the lighting of the alter candles, or Christ candles, by the acolytes.  We all see this as a part of the worship service, but how many of us know what it represents?

The word acolyte is derived from the Greek word akolouthos, meaning companion, attendant, or helper.  Samuel was the helper of Eli when the Lord called to him one night in the temple (1 Samuel 3).  Once Samuel finally realized that it was the Lord calling and not Eli, he replied to the call with ‘Speak, for your servant is listening’.  Another well know helper in the Old Testament is Elisha.  At the direction of the Lord, Elijah sought out Elisha to be his successor as prophet (1 Kings 19:16).  At their meeting Elisha slaughtered his oxen and burned his plowing equipment to cook the meat which was given to the people.  This was an act of total commitment to follow Elijah and become his attendant (1 Kings 19:19 – 21).

In the Methodist tradition, acolytes participate in the worship service by lighting the Christ candles at the beginning of worship.  This act is a symbol of Jesus’ coming into the presence of the worship community.  At the end of the worship service the acolytes re-light their candle-lighters and recess with the Christ flame.  This symbolizes the fact that Jesus is for all the people everywhere and the light of Christ is being carried out into the world where believers are called to serve. 

The acolytes are a vital part of the worship experience.  They serve as ‘helpers’ during the worship service, and remind us all that we should carry Christ’s light out into the world.  If you have children who may be interested in becoming an acolyte, or questions about the acolyte ministry, please contact the Church Office.