Reflections of the Holidays

December 23, 2019

by Dave Ebenhoh, Vice President, Mission Integration

This week, there are three overlapping holidays: Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa - each of them bringing the symbol of light to our attention. This week Christians will celebrate Christ as the "Light of the World" for generations, those of the Jewish faith will celebrate Hanukkah as the "Festival of Lights", and African-Americans will use light as a central symbol in the seven candles of Kwanzaa.

I personally, have always been drawn to the first lines of the Gospel of John from the Christian Scriptures: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." As I read and re-read this line through the years, I notice more and more that the light is not dispelling the darkness, but rather it simply has the power not to be overcome. This same symbolism is also portrayed in the story of Hanukkah when one day's worth of oil kept a menorah burning for eight days during the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem.

How is this reflected in modern day?

We each carry or experience our own unique bits of darkness as we walk through life – the death of a loved one or the disappointment of a relationship coming to an end, the loss of a dream that seems to have slipped by or the struggles of a child, the self-doubt that creeps in when we don't know which way to turn or simply the temporary friction of a relationship that makes us question where before we were certain. Our world, too, exists amidst many dark clouds of oppression, division, and suffering that are all too close for many of us.

These holy-days of Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa call us to see and recognize the light, even as others might see only darkness. As we light candles in the coming days, let us do so with a prayer that we might be a light that shines in someone else's darkness.

May we not be overcome.