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The Christmas Candle Hardcover – October 3, 2006

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About the Author

More than 120 million readers have found comfort in the writings of Max Lucado. He ministers at the Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas, where he lives with his wife, Denalyn, and a sweet but misbehaving mutt, Andy.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One

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.

"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."

"I did."

"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 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.

"You can?"

"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."


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (October 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595541470
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595541475
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (176 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,586,701 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

In just under two decades of writing, Max Lucado has accomplished more than most writers hope for in a lifetime. Most of his books have appeared on one or more best seller lists, including those published by the "New York Times," "USA Today," "Publishers Weekly," and the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA). Aside from hardcover books, Lucado's writings have also been published as children's books, videos, CD-ROMs, DVDs, music CDs, mass paperback booklets, apparel, giftware, bookmarks, calendars, study Bibles, workbooks, curricula, and plush products. In spring 2003, Hallmark/Dayspring Cards launched a new gift card line featuring excerpts from Lucado's writings--and has already sold more than one million cards.

All this success has drawn more than a little attention to a previously low-profile Texas author and minister. Lucado has been featured in a wide range of media, including "USA Today," "Larry King Live," and "NBC Nightly News." He has spoken at the National Prayer Breakfast before the President of the United States. He has traveled with internationally renowned musicians as a special speaker on their music tours, such as the highly successful "Come Together & Worship Tour" (sponsored by Chevrolet) with Grammy Award-winning artists Michael W. Smith and Third Day.

Journey to the Top
Lucado was born in 1955 in San Angelo, Texas, and raised in Andrews, Texas, the youngest of four children. His father was an Exxon oil field mechanic who, Lucado remembers, always smelled of grease cleaner. "It makes it easy for me to see a God who is loving and kind--because my dad was," he says. His mother was a nurse who grew up working in the cotton fields.

Lucado went through a period of rebellion against his parents' values and their God during his teens and into college. But it wasn't long before he found himself drawn back to his roots, back to God. He married, spent time serving as a missionary in Brazil, and returned to the States, where he began working as a church minister and writing on the side.

Secret to Success
From all accounts, Max Lucado is not a man consumed by sales, awards, and achievements. He often turns down media interviews since they impede on family and ministry commitments. He spends the bulk of his week serving as senior minister at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas. And he is truly surprised by his own success--more impressed by his one-in-a-million wife and three amazing daughters than by his successful writing career.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By i blog 4 books on December 4, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
The Christmas Candle by Max Lucado is a short Christmas novella. It was a really quick read, and a good first Christmas read of the season! While the story was very sweet, I found it to be quite confusing at the beginning. I just could not figure out exactly what was happening. I eventually caught on, but it was a little frustrating. I also got confused with ALL of the characters. There were a lot of them and they were just barely developed. I mean, the book is less than 200 pages, so it's not a lot of time to tell a story and let readers get to know a slew of characters. When it was all said and done, I did enjoy the book and really liked the message. The book has recently been made into a movie as well, and I'm hoping to go see it. It will be interesting to see how the movie compares to the book. [3 stars]

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson's BookSneeze program in exchange for my fair and honest review.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Papa Smurf on November 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I set out to read this short book in sessions, but ended up not being able to put it down. I read it all in one sitting and I loved it. Very uplifting and such a good message about faith and God's miracles.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Henny on April 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book because I have followed Susan Boyle making her debut in the movie to be released later this year. Samantha Barks stars, and Susan has a role and sings in the movie, which should be a blockbuster over the holiday season.

This is a story of The Christmas Candle, and the candle maker in some beautiful countryside settings in England. Max Lucado is a great writer and gives us a beautiful little story in this book. Let your heart be light! I sure won't miss seeing the movie.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By T. A. Widman on September 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The Christmas Candle is a novella about faith, miracles and God's power to help us when we call on Him. Every twenty-five years an angel comes and blesses a candle made by the chandler of Gladstone. Light the candle and pray and miracles happen. Enter a reverend who doesn't believe in miracles. A family grown old with no heirs. And a town full of people in need of God's grace. In the end God shows his power and love for them all.

The story is short, I finished it in two hours. And though it is fairly predictable, it still speaks to the soul and has the power to choke you up. Destined to be a Christmas classic for all believers.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By on June 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In THE CHRISTMAS CANDLE, beloved bestselling author Max Lucado spins a light but enjoyable tale of an angel visitation in a small town. It encourages a belief in miracles and offers (as you would expect from Lucado) opportunities to ponder one of the greatest miracles of all: grace and forgiveness.

The story begins in 1664, with a candle maker and his wife. They are awakened by a burst of light, as an angel touches a candle and makes it glow. At the next advent service, the candle maker gives the special candle to a young widow and her two children who are in dire straits. At Christmas Eve, the widow recounts a miracle: "I prayed. I lit the candle and prayed." Then, out of the blue, her wealthy uncle gives her a farm as a gift.

And so it goes that every 25 years, for the next 200 years, an angel touches one candle and the prayer offered over the candle is answered. But the angel only visits the descendants of the first candle maker, Papa Edward. Lucado then fast forwards to 1894 and the Village of Gladstone, where the lineage of the candle makers appears to have ended with the death of Edward's son from cholera. "Does that mean the angel visits stop with you?" asks Reverend Richmond, a candidate for minister, of the elderly candle maker Edward who recounts the story to him. "We assume so." Richmond takes the job, despite some Gladstonians' misgivings about his suitability. He has some secrets in his past that make this parish his only option.

To the dismay of the citizens of Gladstone, Richmond refuses to preach about the miraculous candle. "I don't preach about candles. People don't need old wives tales," says Richmond. "I give people practical help and solid facts. I stay away from mysteries.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M.Fields on October 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Max does not usually write fiction, but this is not a book to be missed he sure knows how to write a book full off hope.
It was to short for me, I want more. It was such a great book with all the people getting their miracles, the ending was great.
I really would love to see more from Max on the fiction shelf when I go looking for a great book.
Super Christmas book. If your having a bad day or just need a pick me up then grab your copy of The Christmas Candle.
I gave this book 5 stars and I recommend this book.
I was given a copy of this book by the publisher for my honest review.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Diane Voskuil on January 14, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I missed the movie and wanted to hear the story so I ordered the ebook from Amazon for my Kindle. It was better than any of the Christmas stories on TV this season. The story has a caughty start and blooms into a great message at the end. It was a delightful read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By SAS on November 24, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
This novella tells the story of the English town of Gladstone, where the mysterious Christmas candle has woven itself into the very history of the citizens. The candlemaker, Edward, and his wife Bea are the latest out of generations in a family of candlemakers to anticipate the arrival of a mysterious angel, who lights a special candle that then blesses its recipient within the week.

The tale is told upon the arrival of the town's newest pastor, Reverend Richmond, who is at best a skeptic and at worst a cynic. An unexpected twist to the generations old story results in a much-needed lesson for him and an equally needed reminder for the citizens of Gladstone.

I hate to say it, because I am typically a big fan of Lucado's books, but I give this book a reluctant three stars. I considered giving it two stars for awhile but ultimately decided on three just because I believe in the message of the story itself.

However, my first problem is the brevity of this story. It was less than 100 pages in my iBooks app, and as a result, did not provide ample time to develop any of the characters, much less the story line. The entire novella felt stilted and awkward.

My second problem is the cost of the book as advertised on every site where I looked. I have a huge problem with novellas being sold for the same price that you'd pay for a traditional length novel - and I have an even bigger problem when those novellas are from Christian authors. This novella should be sold for no more than $3-5 no matter the format. I understand there are costs involved in printing, but if you are going to ask for $9-12, you owe the reader a full novel.
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