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Faces on Faith: Lights make the world bright with hope during these days

By Staff | Dec 19, 2018

Rev. John N. Cedarleaf

My colleague John Danner wrote in this column about the theme of light and how Jews and Christians share that theme, particularly at this time of year, with the celebration of Hanukkah and Christmas. In the northern hemisphere this has special meaning as the darkness comes early and we long for some light to pierce it. It is often the times for quiet nights of reading and often, if we live in the north, we hunker down with a cup of hot chocolate.

As in nature, so also in our lives darkness often gathers around us and often instead of making us feel warm and cozy, we feel cold and isolated and we long for a light to pierce that inner darkness.

I’m reminded of Victor Frankel’s “Man’s Search for Meaning,” which many of us read in our college years. Frankel recounts the story of being on a transport train headed to a concentration camp and looking out the window on a cold and dark morning as the train made its way across the Polish country side. As he looks out the window he sees a farm house and a light shinning out the window, and he is reminded, “The light shines in the darkness.”

The celebration of Christmas is so tied to light: the Bethlehem star, lights on the tree, candles in the window and the words of the writer of the Fourth Gospel:

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”

Light shinning in the darkness, whether from a menorah or a Christmas tree signifies hope; a hope which stands fast in the face of a dark world. Without hope, we cease to be the human beings God created us to be and calls us to be in a world which often seems hopeless.

Martin Luther King said: “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose ultimate hope.” This is the trick for living in the world we do. Once we lose hope we are through. Once we can’t see the light shinning in the darkness, we stumble and fall. So then, light the lights make the world bright with hope during these days.

The Rev. John N. Cedarleaf is the pastor at the Captiva Chapel by the Sea.