On Saturday, December 11th, Ken and I welcomed the Peace Light from Bethlehem at the Bensalem Presbyterian Church. Ken’s congregation has been welcoming the light as a first stop on its journey from JFK by Scout leader Brian Duane! Soon after Bensalem, Brian has been moving to connect with Laura Blank, our colleague at the Smock Presbyterian Church, and from there on to many Scouters, congregations and others who desire to share the message it represents. The light is carried first from the site remembered as the place of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, across Europe, to JFK and then throughout and beyond this country. The light comes as a symbol of peace, transported and shared by those who believe deeply in the connection it represents and the vision to which it aspires, especially during the advent and Christmas seasons.
It was a poignant moment for Ken and I, grateful for the light’s return after COVID kept it from being brought to the United States last year, and poignant as well because of its place in his – our – last things before retirement.
Some might say it is only a candle or a lantern, lit as any might be, but the idea of what it represents, how far the light has traveled, and how it has traveled is hard to ignore.
As I looked out over those who gathered on Saturday evening, I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if all the care that goes into welcoming and safely transporting this flickering flame was used as well to seek and live peace. If the intentional planning, caring, hoping, strategizing, risk taking, creative thinking, appreciating and following through was also carried into actively making a way for peace – God’s peace – in the world, perhaps, just perhaps, we would see glimpses of God’s peaceable kingdom soon – where we are.
In this season of Emmanuel, we are called to celebrate God coming to dwell with humanity, right here, right next door, in Jesus. And with that, Christ comes sharing the potential for peace, a peace that passes all understanding, and breaks into the world with kingdom shalom.
But we must do more to remember the story – we must live it.
As much as we share a light that speaks of the Christ child and all he means for the world – for the gift to be fully received by all – we must do more than just pass the light. We must live it.
It has always been that way and it will continue to be so!
For me the Peace Light is a visible and physical reminder of this call and challenge, and of the One who comes that it might be fulfilled.
May you both share it and live it as well – for the sake of the world. Amen.