Tonight there will be candles lit all over the world in celebration of light. In a wonderful coincidence (a happening of two things at once) not only will Christians celebrate the birth of the Christ beginning with vigil services in the evening, Midnight Mass, and/or celebrations tomorrow throughout the morning, but this year will also see tonight the lighting of the first candles as Jewish families and congregations begin the eight days of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, celebrating the dedication of the temple in Jerusalem.
As often happens, the above synchronicity has led me to the lyrics of two songs, the first which was occasioned during a phone conversation yesterday. Somehow in the midst of remembering “the good old days” of Peter, Paul and Mary, their song Light One Candle entered our conversation. Although we were not speaking of Hanukkah as they were in 1982, I thought of it this morning as the first verse begins: Light one candle for the Maccabee children…The punch line, however, the clear and emphatic theme that begins the chorus was our topic. P, P & M actually seemed to be pleading with the world as they sang: Don’t let the light go out! It’s lasted for so many years…Then as I began writing this morning, a second song – this one from England in 1977 – came to mind: Light of the world, shine on me, love is the answer…
There are all sorts of examples of what the word “light” can mean. For a great percentage of the world’s population one or the other or both of those songs hold great meaning. Whether we begin a celebration at our dinner table with the pure flame of a small candle or find ourselves clicking the flashlights on our iPhones in an audience of thousands of people swaying to words that call for peace, light is the metaphor whose underlying reality we most desire. Let us all light a light tonight, taking a moment to find peace in ourselves and then sending that peace out to our world.