Max Lucado, 'The Christmas Candle'
The author of 'The Christmas Candle,' the book on which the film was based, Max Lucado, had a cameo in the film, while his wife, Denalyn, was an extra. (Courtesy of EchoLight Studios)

Former presidential candidate Rick Santorum and popular Christian author Max Lucado have paired up with singer Susan Boyle for a Christmas film in the trio’s first theatrical release, which hit theaters on Friday.

The Christmas Candle features a minister who struggles with his own faith and belief in miracles as he ministers to the English village of Gladbury. The film is a first for Santorum, who is now CEO of distributor EchoLight Studios.

“The greatest thing I have going for me is that people always have low expectations,” Santorum said after a film screening.

Religion News Service spoke with Lucado, whose book inspired the movie and who has a cameo in the film, on the film’s tensions and why December can be so difficult for so many. Some answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish with this film?
Our hope is hope. Our hope is that we can have a creative way of retelling the Christmas story about the birth of Christ in a way that’s engaging and encouraging. It’s actually a story of people in this small village living with the promise of the birth of Jesus. The story of the birth of Jesus says that God enters the world in common places and does uncommon things, and Gladbury is a very common place where uncommon things were happening.

Q: The film seems to display a tension between faith and works. What is the role of miracles in that tension?
A: As a minister, I struggle with, “Is it all right to pray for a miracle? Why does God heal or why doesn’t he?” I don’t think it’s too tidy. As the minister struggles, it’s a bit autobiographical. There have been seasons in my life where I’ve wrestled with what’s my part and what’s God part.

My thinking is that miracles exist to reveal God, but miracles don’t exist for God to do me any favors. There are occasions where God intervenes in the natural flow of events to display his power, as much as to do something kind for me. That helps me on the occasion when he doesn’t answer the way I want him to. My faith helps me say, “God is using my struggle. My struggle is the answer to the prayer.” There’s a mixture of faith as trusting God to do what is right, not in expecting him to do what I want.

Q: There’s a lot to compete with around the Christmas season. How do you break through the noise?
At Christmas, there’s not a lot of stuff about Christmas—I mean the biblical story of Christmas. I think there’s an opportunity for retelling the birth narrative in creative ways that people long for and appreciate. Every person, at some point during Christmas, asks, “Now why do we do this? Santa Claus and shopping are fun, but isn’t there something more to this?” Those of us who know the birth narrative, we want a reminder too. I think there’s always a place to come back to the Bethlehem story.

Q: It seems like there’s a lot of potential for outrage with the Christmas wars. Is that productive?
I don’t know if there’s any need to get antagonistic about it. Every faith has its story; every faith has its roots. The Muslim faith, the Hindu faith, the Christian faith — we all have our stories. Part of the joy of sharing this planet together is that we all share our stories. I don’t think there’s any threat to hearing one another’s stories. I think the danger comes when we tell people “quit telling your story.” 

Q: Is it challenging to be a pastor in December?
Christmas is happy for many people, but there are a large number of people who are finding it real difficult because it reminds them of what they don’t have. The way to respond to that, I think, is to acknowledge how difficult it can be and to bring a word of comfort, but then also to remind them of what they do have. The Christmas message says what you have is a Redeemer, a Savior, a God who came, who cares, and who’s coming again.

Q: You have said that your wife dealt with depression, and struggled to deal with it in a public way as a pastor’s wife. You said, “In tough times, it’s important for us to be a barnacle on the boat of God’s church.” Are you suggesting people just hang on and run with it?
That’s to combat the thought that “Nobody can understand me, or nobody’s been through this before.” I really believe the devil has lies. What makes tough times tough is we start believing those lies. You combat the lies by staying in community with people, at least availing yourself to the possibility that somebody’s been through this and somebody has a solution.

Q: The pastor character in the movie seems to struggle during the Christmas season.
There’s a very poignant scene in which the reverend, who’s struggling with faith, has refused to pray for sick people, because he doesn’t believe anything happens. Then finally he does, and he comes in with his Bible in which he’s written Scriptures and placed them on the pages, apparently because he can’t find them, and he reads these Scriptures. It’s really a tender moment for him and the person for whom he’s praying.

Copyright 2013 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

Best Magazine Deal. Subscribe now and get 3 magazines for the price of 1. Get Charisma, SpiritLed Woman and Ministry Today, all for $24. YES - I want this deal!

3 Reasons Why you should read Life in the Spirit. 1) Get to know the Holy Spirit. 2) Learn to enter God's presence 3) Hear God's voice clearly! Click Here to draw closer to God!

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
View/Add Comments
  • Roadblock

    6 Roadblocks That Will Stop Your Spiritual Growth

    God wants you to grow in your faith, but many of us get stuck along the way.

  • Bishop Eddie Long died at 63.

    Bishop Eddie Long Dead at 63

    "Although his transition leaves a void for those of us who loved him dearly, we can celebrate ...

  • Inner Healing Is the Fruit of the Spirit

    Inner Healing Is the Fruit of the Spirit

    I have been puzzled about the subject of inner healing for some time.

  • 2017 is the year that swords will clash.

    Prophetic Word: 2017 Will Bring a Clashing of Heaven and Hell

    "This is a time to cross over and not pull back."

  • The devil will try to silence you in any way he can. Don't give him the satisfaction.

    Satan's 2 Most Potent Lies to Render You Ineffective

    There's something in you so powerful that Satan doesn't want it out. Kyle Winkler reveals ...

  • Cindy Jacobs

    2017: Year of the Breakthrough

    "There will be a significant increase in miracles and signs and wonders."

  • Foot washing

    Shaking the Gates of Hell With a Basin of Water and a Towel

    "When I saw His foot, I knew He had come to take back territory the enemy had stolen from His ...

  • Growing relationship

    2017 Prophetic Word: The Supernatural Key to Growing Your Relationship With God

    It's vital that we understand what comes from God and what comes from the devil.

  • Are you willing to volunteer for God's offensive army?

    Prophetic Word: Preparing for God's World War 3

    God is searching for soldiers of the cross who are willing to volunteer for His offensive army.

  • Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Follow God on the most fulfilling journey of your life with Encounter the Holy Spirit! Break away from past hurts and press into the One who wants a personal encounter with you.

  • Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Reach your full potential and be led by His Spirit. In His Presence takes you to a deeper understanding of who God is and how he communicates with us.

  • Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Receive the power and gifts that come through the Holy Spirit Baptism. Don’t go empty-handed; accept all that He has for you! His power is available to those who ask.

  • Put on the Full Armor of God

    Put on the Full Armor of God

    Break every stronghold with the power of the Holy Spirit. Use the power of your tongue to declare and decree the Word of God. Witness heaven move on your behalf.

Use Desktop Layout
Charisma Magazine — Empowering believers for life in the Spirit