From New York Times best-selling author Max Lucado comes a timeless message that will warm your heart.
Imagine a Victorian England village in the Cotswolds where very little out of the ordinary ever happens . . . except at Christmas time.
This year, Edward Haddington, a lowly candle maker, is visited by a mysterious angel. That angel silently imparts a precious gift—a gift that’s bungled and subsequently lost. The candle maker and his wife, Bea, struggle to find the gift.
And when they do, they have to make a difficult choice. Who among their community is most in need of a Christmas miracle?
Join inspirational author Max Lucado and experience anew the joy of Christmas.
BONUS: Includes a sneak preview of Max’s novel, Miracle at the Higher Grounds Café!
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||5.18(w) x 7.43(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
Since entering the ministry in 1978, Max Lucado has served churches in Miami, Florida; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and San Antonio, Texas. He currently serves as Teaching Minister of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio. He is America’s bestselling inspirational author with more than 130 million books in print.
Follow his website at MaxLucado.com
Read an Excerpt
Afternoon May 4, 1864
May 4, 1864
"I just think it odd that Oxford would assign its top student to a village like Gladstone," Edward Haddington said to his wife, Bea. A broad-shouldered man with a brilliant set of dark eyes and full, gray eyebrows, he wrestled to button the waistcoat over his rotund belly.
Equally plump Bea was having troubles of her own. "How long since I wore this dress?" she wondered aloud. "Must I let it out again?" Then louder, "Edward, hurry. He's due within the hour."
"Don't you think it odd?"
"I don't know what to think, dear. But I know we need to leave now if we don't want to be late. He arrives at half-past one."
The couple hurried out of the small gabled house and scurried the half mile south on Bristol Lane toward the center of the village. They weren't alone. A dozen or more villagers walked ahead of them. By the time Edward and Bea reached the town commons, at least half the citizens of Gladstone, some sixty people, stood staring northward. No one noticed the white-haired couple. All eyes were on the inbound wagon.
The driver pulled the horses to a halt, and a young man stood to exit. He bore beady eyes, a pointed chin, and his angular nose seemed to descend forever before finding a place to stop. With a tall hat in his hand and a black coat draped on his shoulders, Rev. David Richmond surveyed the crowd. Edward detected a sigh. "We must appear odd to him," he whispered to Bea.
She cupped an ear toward him. "What?"
He shook his head, not wanting to risk being overheard.
A goggle-eyed locksmith, so humped from filing he had to greet the guest with a sideways, upward glance, extended the first hello. Next came a short farmer and his Herculean, simpleminded son. "He can clean the windows in the church," the father offered. "He did for Reverend Pillington." A mill worker asked Reverend Richmond if he liked to fish. Before he could reply, a laborer invited the minister to join him and his friends at the pub.
"Let the man breathe, dear people. Let him breathe." The citizens parted to let Edward extend his hand. "A fine welcome to Gladstone, Reverend. Did you enjoy the carriage ride?"
Reverend Richmond had ample reason to say yes. Spring had decked the Cotswolds in her finest fashions. Waist-high stone walls framed the fields. Puffy flocks dotted the pastures. Crows scavenged seeds from melting snow. May clouds passed and parted, permitting sunlight to glint off the shallow creeks. England at her best. Yet the minister replied with an unconvincing, "It was pleasant."
Edward picked up the clergyman's bag and led him through the crowd. "We'll deposit your things at the parsonage and let you freshen up. Then I'll leave you with the Barstow family for tea."
As the crowd dispersed, the reverend nodded and followed his hosts toward the manse. It sat in the shadow of St. Mark's Church, which was only a stone's throw from the center of town. The hoary, dog-toothed Norman tower stood guard over the village. Edward paused in front of the church gate and invited, "Would you like to take a look inside?"
The guest nodded, and the three entered the grounds.
A cemetery separated the church from the road. "To preach to the living, you have to pass through the dead," Edward quipped.
"Edward!" Bea corrected.
Reverend Richmond offered no reply.
The walls of the path through the cemetery were, at points, shoulder high, elevating the headstones to eye level. The newest one lay beneath the tallest yew tree near the church entrance and marked the burial place of St. Mark's former rector. Edward and Bea paused, giving Richmond time to read the inscription:
Reverend P. Pillington Man of God. Man of Faith. Man of Gladstone. Ours, but for a moment. God's forever. 1789-1864
Man of God.
Man of Faith.
Man of Gladstone.
Ours, but for a moment.
"This month we'd have celebrated his fiftieth year at the church," said Bea.
"When did he die?" the reverend asked.
"February," Edward answered. "Hard winter. Pneumonia took him."
"God took him," Bea altered.
Edward nodded. "We dearly loved the man. You'll find his fingerprints throughout the valley. He taught us to trust, to pray. He even taught me to read and write."
Bea chimed in. "Edward here was a diligent student. Come ahead. Let's step inside."
The heavy doors opened to the rear of the sanctuary. Three shafts of stained-glass sunlight spilled through tall windows. "My grandfather helped install those," Edward offered. He strode the five short steps to the baptismal font and motioned for the reverend to join him. "Dates back two centuries," Edward said, running a finger along the limestone. "My ancestors were all baptized here. In fact, my great-great--Bea, how many 'greats' is it?"
She placed a finger to her lips. "Let the reverend meditate."
Edward apologized with a wave and stepped back.
One aisle separated two groups of ten pews. A lectern faced the seats on the left, and a pulpit presided over the church from the right. Brass organ pipes climbed the chancel wall behind the pulpit, where two sets of choir benches faced each other.
"My Bea plays the organ," Edward boasted.
The clergyman didn't respond. He made the short walk to the front and stopped at the first of the five swaybacked stone steps leading up to the pulpit. A thick Bible and empty glass rested on the stand.
"Been vacant since February," Edward offered.
Reverend Richmond turned with a puzzled look. "No minister filled in?"
Bea shook her head. "Only on occasion. Gladstone is too remote for most clergymen. But we've gotten by."
"Right," Reverend Richmond said, suddenly ready to leave. "Shall we move on?"
Bea extended a hand. "I'll go home and prepare some dinner. Reverend, enjoy your visit to Gladstone."
Edward showed the minister the parsonage and waited outside until he was ready for the first appointment of the afternoon.
Charles Barstow cut an imposing figure standing in his doorway: thick shoulders, long face, hollow cheeks flanked by snow-white sideburns, and eyebrows as thick as hedges.
As Edward presented the reverend, he explained, "Charles runs the local mercantile. Need boots, hats, or hammers? He can help you."
Richmond noted the fine house: ivy framed its dormers; jasmine and roses charmed the porch.
"Charles, I'll leave him in your care," Edward said.
Mr. Barstow's wife joined him at the door and escorted them to a table in the inglenook next to the fireplace. She stood much shorter than the two men, her head level with her husband's shoulders. She was overdressed, better attired for the theatre than for tea. She attempted a sophisticated air, as if wanting to be in, or at least from, some other town. "Tell me," she nasaled, pausing after each word. "How is life in Oxford?"
Her husband sighed and motioned for the minister to sit. "I understand you grew up in London."
"My family is from Putney--some time back, however. And yours?"
"Kensington. I'm the first to leave the city, actually. That is, if I do. I shall be the first in our family not to serve the royal household in generations."
"Oh." Mrs. Barstow perked up. "What is your connection?"
"My father is a barrister."
"My, my," Mrs. Barstow admired.
The Barstows' granddaughter, Emily, joined them at the table.
Reverend Richmond was grateful to see someone closer to his age, even more thankful to see someone so pretty. Emily's curled brown locks fell to her shoulders. Her warm hazel eyes ducked from his glance. He looked away, equally embarrassed.
"I hear you have no wife," her grandmother said.
Emily blushed. The reverend caught the hint but didn't reply.
Mr. Barstow redirected the conversation with questions about Oxford, but his wife was not easily deterred. At the next pause, she jumped in. "Our dear friend's niece will marry next week. As for us, we have no plans."
Emily, who still hadn't spoken, shot a glance at her grandmother.
"That's good to know," Reverend Richmond offered, then corrected himself. "I mean, it's nice that your friend is marrying, and, well, I hope you will . . . or your granddaughter will marry soon as well. If she wants to, that is."
"Tell me, Reverend." Charles spoke, to the minister's relief. "What do you think of the candle?"
"The Gladstone Candle."
"I, uh, can't say I've heard of it."
The three Barstows shared wide-eyed glances.
"You've never heard of the candle?" Mrs. Barstow asked.
"Or the candle maker?" Mr. Barstow added.
"Or the Christmas miracles?" Emily completed.
"No," the reverend admitted, feeling that he'd missed a long conversation.
The three looked at him with eyes reserved for a sumptuous meal, each wanting to eat first. "Well, let me tell you--" Mrs. Barstow volunteered.
"Maybe I should do that," her husband interrupted. But a knock at the door stopped him. He stood and answered it.
"I knew if I didn't come, you'd forget to bring him to our house," said a friendly, round-faced woman.
Mr. Barstow turned toward the minister. "This is Sarah Chumley. She'll take you to your next visit."
Reverend Richmond gave her a puzzled look. Sarah chuckled. "You've apparently met my twin, Bea Haddington. Don't even try to tell us apart. People who have known us for years still grow confused."
Richmond stood, thanked his guests. Mrs. Barstow spoke again. "I'll be glad to finish what we started, Reverend."
Did she mean the candle or the courting? He didn't know and didn't dare ask. He turned and smiled a half smile, grateful to be leaving.
Sarah Chumley was as cheerful as the morning sun, was wide-waisted, and blessed with plump cheeks that flushed with rose and rendered eyes into half moons at the slightest smile. She escorted the minister down the street, two houses past St. Mark's Church. She paused at the parsonage that separated her home from the church building. "This is the . . ."
"I know, the parsonage. I've already dropped off my bags."
"Reverend Pillington lived here for half a century. A dear man. Scratchy after souls, he was." She paused as if enjoying a memory, then invited, "Come. Mr. Chumley looks forward to meeting you."
She led Reverend Richmond through a chest-high gate and a golden garden of goldilocks and buttercups. Wisteria stretched over the honey-colored cottage walls, and bright red paint accented the front door. Her husband opened it, not to let them in, but to let a patient out.
"Keep it wrapped, now, Mr. Kendall. Apply the liniment like I showed you, and"--placing a hand on the old man's shoulders, Mr. Chumley winked--"don't you think it's time you let the younger people birth the lambs?"
"I'm as spry as I ever was," the man countered. "Hello, madam," he added.
"Afternoon," Sarah greeted. She and the reverend stepped aside so the injured shepherd could pass. "My husband's the village alchemist, closest thing Gladstone has to a doctor. Try to find a villager he hasn't treated--you won't find one."
Mr. Chumley was a slight man, bespectacled and short. But for a crown of gray, he would have been bald. "Come in, come in!" He clasped his hands together. "Been looking forward to meeting you." He led them through the pharmacy in the front of the house to the parlor, where the reverend entered into his second conversation of the afternoon. He soon discovered that Mr. Chumley and the former rector had been fast friends. The two men had shared tea, problems, and long winters; but, curiously, they hadn't shared matters of faith. "I leave things of God with God," Mr. Chumley stated pointedly.
"I can respect that," Reverend Richmond said.
"Of course I can. Theology has changed since your former rector studied."
The reverend noted Sarah's furrowed brow but continued. "God keeps his distance, you know. He steps in with Red Sea and resurrection moments, but most of the time he leaves living life up to us."
"I've never heard such thoughts," Sarah said, joining the two men at the table.
"Nor have I, but I've had them," Mr. Chumley agreed. "I treat the body and leave the treatment of the soul to those who believe one exists." He reached across the table and placed a hand on Sarah's. "Like my wife."
"I still pray for him, however."
"And I still attend services . . . though my mind does wander."
The Chumley visit proved to be Reverend Richmond's most enjoyable of the day. He had dabbled in chemistry, and Mr. Chumley enjoyed debating theology. They took turns on each subject until the peal of St. Mark's tower clock prompted Sarah to interrupt. "I promised Bea to have you at their house within the hour."
"I'll take him," Mr. Chumley volunteered. He donned a hat and grabbed his cane as the minister expressed thanks to his hostess, and the two stepped outside onto Bristol Lane, where horse hooves clicked on egg-shaped cobblestones, small thatched-roof houses lined the street, and villagers gave generous greetings.
"Good day, Mr. Chumley, Reverend," offered a seamstress carrying yards of cloth.
"Hello there, Mr. Chumley," saluted a farmer with mud-laden boots. "Those Epsom salts are helping the missus right well. Reverend, good to see you."
As they passed the town commons and the center cross, Mr. Chumley spoke about his in-laws, Bea and Edward Haddington. "The village treasures them. Not just because of the candle, mind you. They are dear, dear folk."
"What is this candle?" Reverend Richmond asked. "Mr. Barstow mentioned it to me as well."
The question stopped Mr. Chumley in his tracks. "You don't know about the candle?"
He removed his hat and scratched his head. "It's best that I let Edward tell you about it."
"And why is that?"
"He's the candle maker."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
What I love most about any of Max Lucado's books, is that they follow you wherever you go. The message you are bound to find will undoubtedly find its way into your heart and soul. What I have discovered is the perfect gift for those that love a great book just in time for Christmas. One that you can incorporate into your family devotions as well as a late night reading for your family next to a warm fire on a snowy night. The best part is that this is finding its way into being made into a movie so that it can enjoyed in a multitude of ways for Christmas. In The Christmas Candle set in the late 1600's in Cotswald, England, we meet when the story originated with a candle maker and his wife. They are awakened in the middle of the night by a heavenly angel that appears and touches just one candle before disappearing, ensuring that the candle maker knows just which one was touched. The candle is then given to a woman who is desperate for food. She has no means to find money to help her children out and the candle maker instructs her to light the candle and pray to God for help. The next day at church service in St. Mark's the widow informs the church of the Christmas miracle that happened when she did just what the candle maker told her to do. She was given a farm by a wealthy uncle she didn't know so she can live in it and provide for her children without payment. Now the legend continues in the small town that whenever the church service begins each 25 years, a Christmas miracle occurs by whomever the candle is given by the candle maker's family. This year however much has changed. Will the miracle of the Christmas candle still work in the hearts of the people living in the town of Gladstone? You'll have to pick this one up and find out. I received The Christmas Candle by Max Lucado compliments of Thomas Nelson Publishers for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own. This is such a wonderful and heartwarming story that I can see it becoming a Christmas tradition much like the reading of The Christmas Story or the Night Before Christmas. It definitely opens up the conversation around what happens in the book and compels us to look deep inside our hearts to see how wonderful the birth of Jesus Christ was so many years ago and how even today, that miracle still works the lives and hearts of those that believe in Him. Hands down a perfect 5 out of 5 stars! What a life-changing book this would make as a gift for someone this Christmas!
This is definetly a case of the book being better than the movie. I was entranced by the book and wondering how it would all tie together til the end. I was in tears; reminded of how God weaves incidents together for His glory. The movie was changed quite a bit. Read the book insted.
A perfect Christmas story. God is great.
Max Lucado is an author that never disappoints. You never have to wonder if his book is going to be good or not, they all are. This little fiction novel took me 1 hour to read from start to finish. It is such a cute Christmas tale and it took me into a different world. The story has several families who are hoping for a Christmas miracle. One particular family has held the tradition of having the candle, which has been passed down year after year. Every twenty five years, the angel visits and blesses someone's family. The whole towns get involved and knows of this tradition. Several families in the community are needing the miracle of The Christmas Candle, but only one family can receive the miracle. Many families are asking the candle maker and his wife for the special Christmas candle, so they are able to receive the blessing. The book ends in a very expecting way, but ties the miracle of the Christmas Candle and each family experiences a miracle. This book is such a great story and will become a traditional December read! Thanks Booksneeze for a great book!
A nice, quick read for the holidays. About 75 pages. Well written and edited. Starts in the 1600's and ends in the 1800's. A story of faith, miracles, friendship and community. Something to read when you want to lift your spirits.
Please don't tell me something is a "book" or a "novel" when it is less than 100 pages. It is a "short story." I just want to know what I'm getting. I chose this book from my library thinking I was settling down with a nice Christmas book and my first thought upon opening it was, "This isn't a book! It's a short story!"
Of Christmas and an angel who chooses 1 special candle that with prayer miracles happen EVERY year!!
A very nice short read that will renew your faith in the miracle of the human spirit. The outcome is somewhat expected but the entire book keep my interest. What a nice read during the holiday season.
Heartwarming stories that will give you the warm fuzzies!
A beautiful Christmas story full of faith, love, forgiveness, and hope.
A reminder to trust God
Loved this book. Short but very good story.
A lovely Christmas story about faith and love.
70 pages. Worth reading. Cute but not great.