Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 19, 2005
Light the candle of Christ's hope
This Christmas, honour the child, all children and planet Earth with a candle
By SUZANNE ELSTON
Christmas is the one day of the year when we openly and unashamedly believe in miracles. We embrace the idea that a fat little man in a red suit will soar around the world in a matter of a few hours, delivering toys to all the good little boys and girls.
There is magic in every snowflake and in every twinkling light on every Christmas tree across the land. Christmas is when we open our homes and our hearts to the family of man. Spirits are lightened and within our hearts there is peace.
All these wonderful things come to pass because 2,000 years ago an infant, born into poverty to a people and a country in bondage, brought the promise of hope to the world. That's the miracle of the Christmas story.
When you look at the Christmas story logically, it's preposterous to think that such a child could reach out through the millennia and touch us still. But this story is no more preposterous than the idea that a tiny planet, revolving around a small, insignificant star in a remote corner of the galaxy would nurture almost five million different species and become a brilliant jewel of light and life.
We are the body of Christ - the manifestation of hope. We are living proof that against all odds, light will bring life to the void. That's why we celebrate his birthday at the passing of the winter solstice - the darkest time of the year.
It is a metaphor for our own lonely sojourn through space and time. As the hemisphere begins the slow journey back toward the light, we witness the resurrection of life and of hope. That's why we decorate trees and cover our homes with lights on the darkest night of the year.
We are not alone. Other religions also celebrate at this time of year. Hanukkah candles mark another miracle of light - when one tiny candle lasted through eight nights of despair.
Again, hope in the darkness.
Many years ago a dear friend and mentor told me that I was a candle in the wind. He worried that my belief in all things impossible left me vulnerable to disappointment.
I flippantly replied, "But I have plenty of matches."
It wasn't until much later that I understood the wisdom of my own immature response. A single candle - a small flame of hope - is more meaningful to us than the most brilliant sunrise. That's why we light candles for the dead. It is the embodiment of our belief that life endures.
And that is also why the birth of a tiny child can bring such hope to the world. For every child born is a candle in the wind, bringing the promise of resurrection to us all.
Miracle of hope
And so this Christmas I will light a candle of hope for people lost in the darkness. I will light a candle of hope that a child - any child - born into poverty and despair can take his flickering light and change the world. And I will light a candle of hope for a tiny jewel of a planet, spinning all alone in the endless ebony of space.
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