Friday, December 11, 2009

Festival Of Lights - Go Light Your World - 12/11/2009

Today's Mental Image:

An American Festival Of Lights



Observed Religiously by Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Jains. Other Indians celebrate the cultural aspects. Religious Significance in India and Nepal: celebration of the victory of good over evil; the uplifting of spiritual darkness. Celebrations: decorating homes with lights, fireworks, distributing sweets and gifts. Observances: prayers, religious rituals.


Official name Hebrew: חֲנֻכָּה or חנוכה. Also called Festival of Lights. An Eight Day Celebration Observed by Jews. Jewish Significance: the Maccabees successfully rebelled against Antiochus IV Epiphanes [the Greek ruler]. Many, however, prefer to shift the holiday's focus away from a military-victory celebration in favor of the commemoration of the "Miracle of Lights." The Temple was purified and the wicks of the menorah miraculously burned for eight days, even though there was only enough sacred oil for one day's lighting. Celebrations: lighting candles each night, singing special songs, reciting Hallel prayer, eating festive meals and foods fried in oil, playing the dreidel game, and exchanging gifts. Celebration of Hanukkah reinforces the basic tenets of Judaism: dedication, perseverance, generosity and remembrance.

  American Christmas 

The American Festival of Lights Remains Christmas.

Christian Significance: the celebration of Jesus Christ's birth - the Light Became Flesh and Dwelt Among Us.  It also points forward to Christ's death and resurrection when the light overcame the darkness [evil].  Religious Celebration: lighting candles, special worship services/rituals, singing carols, distributing gifts to the poor.  Cultural Observations:  exhanging gifts, decorating trees with ornaments and lights, outdoor lighting displays, public holiday celbrations, Santa Claus, visiting friends and family, special foods and a feast, charitable giving.

WHILE DIWALI AND HANUKKAH APPEAR TO CELBRATE THE SAME VALUES:  The Overcoming of Evil by the Good; Generosity and Remembrance, the defined ways that these values came into being and thus their life impact are very distinct from that of the Christian beliefs and practices.

HAVING SAID THAT, however, I must ask whether our "American Christian" observances actually put as visible feet on our spiritual values as the pagans and Jews do. 

AT THIS OUR FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS let us not forget the words of Jesus, "You are the light of the world."  Can the world see that light or is it buried in the shadows of our hearts and church buildings.


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