‘A Christmas Candle’: A meditation on faith and works

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Lesley Manville and Sylvester McCoy star in a scene from the EchoLight Studios production "The Christmas Candle." This past June, Rick Santorum, the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania and a 2012 presidential candidate, became CEO of the Dallas-based production studio whose mission is to develop faith-based films. (CNS photo/EchoLight Studios)
Lesley Manville and Sylvester McCoy star in a scene from the EchoLight Studios production “The Christmas Candle.” This past June, Rick Santorum, the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania and a 2012 presidential candidate, became CEO of the Dallas-based production studio whose mission is to develop faith-based films. (CNS photo/EchoLight Studios)

Sure, department stores are putting up decorations and the radio might be playing the right music, but the best way to get into the Christmas spirit might well be to wander into a movie theater. “A Christmas Candle” (EchoLight Studios) is playing throughout the Valley and is well worth the price of admission for the whole family.

The film is based on best selling Protestant author Max Lucado’s book of the same name and, in many ways, is a meditation on the relationship between faith and works. The film recounts the story of David Richmond (Hans Matheson), a young minister who has been serving the poor in London in 1890. After some encouraging, he leaves this work to begin serving a Victorian town on the English countryside. His sermons question many of the town’s traditions and challenge the villagers to put their faith into action.

One particular tradition — that of the Christmas Candle — is the focal point of the film. According to legend, an angel visits the village candlemaker every 25 years and touches a single candle. Whoever lights this candle receives a miracle on Christmas Eve. Richmond questions this tradition, too, and nearly snuffs out Christmas.

In the end, God is glorified by faith and works, as the villagers learn that by loving their neighbor they can cooperate in God’s miraculous work.

The message is more important that the story, so the plot suffers a bit from that. Some of the dilemmas seem somewhat contrived. There is a predictable, but sweet romance between Richmond and Emily Barstow (Samantha Barks). Susan Boyle, the singing sensation from “Britain’s Got Talent,” makes her film debut. They all deliver strong performances.

It’s also worth noting that Rick Santorum, the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania and 2012 presidential candidate, is the CEO of EchoLight Studios.

“Rather than cursing the darkness, we need to get out there and start shining some light,” Santorum said in an interview with Catholic News Service.

“A Christmas Candle” certainly does that.

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