In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)
These words of assurance remind us no matter how tragic the circumstance, no matter how dire the situation, no matter how grim the prognosis, no matter how disturbing the news, no matter how heartbreaking the headline, no matter how grievous the sin, no matter how broken or corrupt the system, no matter the darkness inside you or me, no matter if we believe in God or not the Light of all people has come into the world and cannot be extinguished.
United Methodist Pastor, Todd Outcalt writes the following:
A few years ago, our congregation started an Advent tradition with the Peace Light – a flame that is taken from the grotto of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, carried around the world in a miner’s lantern, and distributed from church to church and home to home via candlelight. The Peace Light usually arrives at our church a few days before Christmas Eve, and people from the church and community bring their own candles in order to retrieve the flame and carry it back to their homes.
The Peace Light has become a powerful connection in our community, and sharing the light of the one candle produces feelings of solidarity, unity, and support. This experience may especially be powerful for those who may be experiencing grief in their lives.
When people pick up the Peace Light, we also distribute a small slip of paper with various scripture readings, including the powerful words from the prophet Isaiah, “The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light” (quoted in Matthew 4:16), and the words of Psalm 23. Here, in this beloved psalm, we find words that have given aid and comfort to millions of people through the centuries – especially during times of loss. The psalmist, like Isaiah (and Matthew) echoes the promise of God’s light and comfort when we are walking through the valley of the shadow of death…
We do not need a Peace Light from the grotto of the Church of the Nativity in order to experience God’s peace and love. God’s peace is available to us through the abiding presence of the Spirit who encourages us and offers light during difficult times.
This week I heard of a group of neighbors who agreed that during this time of living in the shadow of pandemic, isolation, quarantine, and loss one of the ways they could feel connected was to connect their Christmas lights from one house to another, from one front yard to another, from one neighbor to another around a corner and down the block. Indeed, it’s another example of light symbolizing a powerful connection in our community.
This year, Christmas Eve Candlelight Service is going to be different. We will not be together, as we have in the past, with faces aglow singing Silent Night in the sanctuary. No, this year we will be together virtually, our faces aglow by our computer as well as candle. This is not the Christmas Eve Service we hoped for, but we will still be together as a Christian community, as a people of peace…we will still be connected by the Light of all people that will never be extinguished.
Please plan to join us for our Christmas Eve Service Thursday, December 24 at 7:00pm. Please email us for the Zoom link.
May God bless you this Christmas Season!