Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Consideration of Dark and Light

Since Mankind became self-aware, we have known there was something “out there”; Something that we were connected to; Something that was connected to us.  Something greater.  Something that gave life.  Even as the people we now call Neanderthals, we knew death was not the end, we would live again.  We buried our dead in the earth we knew we had come from, covered with red ocher to represent the color of life, in a fetal position so we could be reborn.

We searched for the Something in the sun, the moon, the stars, the air, fire, water, animals.  We searched for it in the seasons, in life, in death, in activities lofty and low.  We looked for it in other humans and set some up as priests to interpret the Something’s wishes, pacify, control and serve it, and in kings to interpret how we should live by the Something’s ways and to rule over us, as entirely as we thought the Something did.

But the priests were liars and the kings cruel.  The more desperately we looked for the Something in these places the farther from finding it we became.  Instead of rising in enlightenment we fell deeper into darkness.  There was at work an adversarial power that did not want us to find the Something.

***De profundis clamavi ad te domine!  Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord! (after Psalm 130)

The Something we knew was there saw us in our scrabbling and feeling about in the darkness, finding nothing.  He heard us.  Among His creations was Abraham, and to him He revealed Himself.  Here now was the Something we sought – the one God.  He tested Abraham to ensure Abraham was strong enough to carry the Light of this knowledge through the darkness, through time.  Over time, He gave Abraham and his descendants the way to acknowledge Him, and the way to live.  He chose them.

The one God was strict but also merciful.  He chose this people of Abraham, who we now call the Jews, to carry the bright light of the Truth a long way and a long time through a world filled with the temptations of the old searchers and the power of the adversary.  Several times, they nearly fell to these temptations.  But God sent them warnings and help and they persevered.  While their Law forbade Jewish people intermixing with non-Jews, God allowed certain of these to stand with the Jewish people, giving aid and even intermarriage.  These were specially blessed.  God wanted everyone to participate in the Truth, and laid the foundations for this acceptance.

The one God knew the day would come when all the people of the world would need to find the Light of the Truth He had so carefully entrusted to the Chosen people.  He promised a Savior - the Messiah - would be sent to bring all the people of the world, still lost and searching in the darkness, into the Light.

Even having the benefit of the Law, human beings, even among the Chosen, can falter and fail.  The adversary understands and exploits human weakness.  In one of the times of difficulty, some of the Chosen people were falling to temptation to be absorbed into another culture.  Others fought against it and in the war, supplies were short.  Oil consecrated and blessed to light the temple of the one God was only enough to last for one day.  But the tiny amount, so small, lasted for eight days.  The temple remained lit, and during the time, more oil was obtained and the temple rededicated to the one God.  From this time to the present day, the Chosen people celebrate, Hanukkah, the eight day Festival of Lights and Dedication of the Temple during the month in which this miracle occurred – what is known by many now as December.

Light overcoming darkness.  Dedication to God.  Foreshadowing of the future. The coming of the Messiah, the Anointed, the Christ, the Savior. 

***“The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them. You shall multiply the nation, You shall increase their gladness; They will be glad in Your presence As with the gladness of harvest…” (Isaiah 9:2)

We do not know the birth date of Jesus, born in Bethlehem.  But we celebrate his birth on December 25th.  Some people say we celebrate it at this time because those who follow the teachings of Jesus – Christians - absorbed old searcher observances and re-named them with their own; The old Roman holiday of Saturnalia, or old searcher celebrations of the Winter Solstice – shortest day and longest night – were usurped by Christians as a means to more easily replace those old ways with their own.


But I think it is for a different reason.


Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, celebrates the miracle of Light when hope for light was lost.  The Winter Solstice celebrates the end of the darkness and the return of the light and life.  The Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, at this time to celebrate the coming of the Light of the World.  The earth, which was in darkness, has seen a great light.


***“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)


Happy Hanukkah!  Merry Christmas!

Stehekin912 December 2014