“Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.” Isaiah 60:1
I am a Catholic Christian, born into a large Catholic family from the Midwest of the United States. Most of my warmest childhood memories revolve around ceremonies and traditions of our faith, and all of them involve the lighting of candles.
During this time of year, my Jewish friends celebrate Chanukah (Hanukkah), the eight-day Festival of Lights; they light one candle each night on the Menorah. I understand that Buddhists observe a religious Light Festival in October, and that the Hindu celebrate Diwali which involves the lighting of small clay lamps filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil.
Jesus is called the Light of the World. There are at least 80 references to LIGHT in the New Testament, and almost that many in the Old Testament. We are told to not hide our light under the basket, and are reminded, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
We light the candles in the Advent Wreath in anticipation of Christmas Day when we celebrate Christ’s birth (although He was probably born in the spring and not in December, but the time of year truly doesn’t matter, does it?). This is my dining table, lit with candles in anticipation of my Christmas dinner with my family around this table. Look closely; you can just make out the chairs, quietly waiting for the warmth of the love of family.
Aross the world and across all faiths and traditions, we share similar beliefs, hopes, and dreams. The metaphor of light weaves a bright powerful ribbon that could, if we let it, join us together as humans searching for life and love in what can be a harsh, cold, and dark world.
As the Buddha said, I cannot live without a spiritual life. I light candles to symbolize the light that my Christian beliefs bring into my life and to remind me to be a light to those who are struggling with darkness.
Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. Genesis 1:3