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Christmas card

For our church service on Sunday we were asked to look through the Christmas cards that we had received and choose one, that, for us, summed up the Christmas message.  

I chose this card, a seemingly traditional symbol for Christmas, a flickering candle. However, this card comes from my friend Shoshanah who lives California, she is Jewish, and the candle represents one of the candles of Hanukkah, Hebrew for Dedication, the Jewish Festival of Lights. On each of the eight days of Hanukkah, this year running from sunset on 22nd December to nightfall on 30th December, an additional candle is lit and placed on the menorah, ideally near a window so that it can be shared with as many people as possible. The tradition comes from the story of the miracle of Hanukkah, when, in the second century BC the Temple in Jerusalem was rededicated only one vial of oil was found with just enough oil to illuminate the Temple lamp for one day, the lamp burned for a full eight days, long enough for more oil to be prepared.

As well as celebrating, feasting and lighting candles, Hanukkah also brings a requirement to dedicate oneself to the mending of the world. As light comes into Jewish homes each day with the lighting of an additional candle, light also comes with a renewed commitment to repairing or mending the world. The child born in the stable in Bethlehem came to mend the world, we who recognise the light of the world need to take that light and share it with as many people as possible, through kindness, through love and the offer of hope.

As we look around our world with all it’s divisions, unkindnesses, intolerances and hatred we should kindle our flames of hope. As I left church yesterday and got in the car to drive home the news came on the radio of the stabbing in New York of five people during a Hanukkah celebration at the home of a rabbi .....there is an urgent imperative to dedicate ourselves to mend the world.

Lead me from death to life, from falsehood to truth.

Lead me from despair to hope, from fear to trust.

Lead me from hate to love, from war to peace.

Let peace fill our hearts, our world, our universe.