Church of the Lighted Lanterns
There once lived a devout young prince, and he ruled a mountain kingdom. Desiring to build a monument to God as a reminder to his subjects of their dependence upon Christ and His power, he established near his capital city a unique chapel for worship, on a hill overlooking the valley where his people dwelt. Travelers reported it to be a charming spot reached only after a considerable climb up a winding path.
The house of worship was a lovely piece of architecture, its art glass windows reflecting all the changing colors of day, from sunrise to evensong, suffusing the interior with the soft glow we associate with quiet, meditative moods. All the appointments of the church were conducive to holy reverence, as befits a sanctuary where God is invited to dwell.
But in this chapel there was one thing different from every other built before that time, and perhaps since ; for in place of chandeliers or wall lamps for evening illumination, there were scores of little niches in the walls apparently. intended to hold individual lanterns.
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These lamps were brought by the worshipers themselves. Hence on those evenings appointed for worship, all through the valley little flickering lights could be seen in the hands of the devout as they wound their way up to the church on the hilltop. Each little lamp contributed but a feeble radiance in its modest bracket, but when ' all the congregation were there, the chapel was brilliantly aglow with warmth and beauty. No one dared stay away from service and leave his lantern bracket dark. The dependence of each member upon every other member fostered a fellowship that was rich in sympathy and appreciation and good will.
The story offers suggestion for spiritual analogy for the church in a wider sense. What heavenly illumination there might be in the congregation of the saints if every time we entered the sanctuary of God we brought with us a portion of that light which lighteth every man coming into the world; if every time we crossed the threshold of the church all the dark forebodings and fears of the human spirit were dropped off like an outer cloak; if every time we passed through the portals of a house of worship into the seclusion of its holy silence, we forgot our hates and envies and jealousies and self-applause and trimmed within our hearts the lamp of faith and hope and charity; if in the singing and choral responses and symbolic ritual, in the prayers and offerings and pulpit exhortations of the divine service, we could discern the light of truth that shines from the glory of Christ wherever His name is lifted up; if in every assembly of the saints there were not a single shadow in a single human soul in which any imp of Satan could dwell.
Perhaps the story might be used as an allegory: The prince a type of Christ, His kingdom a congregation of loving hearts, the hill Calvary, the lamps His distributed Word, the light "the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."
H. M. TIPPETT.
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