I will never understand the rationale behind what some see as a great divide between science and religion. Science is linked to learning about this world; religion is about connecting to this world through our belief. The more I understand or do not understand of this world, the closer I am to embracing both my faith and the mystery surrounding God. The rich textures of this world should open our hearts and minds to the wondrous doings of our Creator.
Around the world, different faiths and cultures use light to express their beliefs. Near the end of October, I celebrated the Hindu Festival of lights (Diwali) with friends of mine who are from India. The Jewish Festival of Lights (Chanukah) is based on the biblical miracle of God providing enough oil to keep the Temple lamp (menorah) lit when the Jews returned home to Jerusalem. Kwanzaa is a festival of lights begun in the United States in 1966 to help bring unity to African Americans reconnecting to the continent of Africa after the diaspora of Africans due to the slave trade. The festival celebrates the strengths of African tribal life, and provides a hopeful message to the people of African descent around the world. For Christians, Advent and Christmas use the imagery of light to talk about the coming of Christ. Light – what a splendid choice for the image of Christ.
Light helps us to see things that were once in darkness, both literally and metaphorically. In our scientific language, light transits data (through radio waves and lasers), carrying messages far away; light can travel through walls at great speeds, yet is actually still in ultra-cold gas. In fact, we cannot see all light; only certain parts of the light spectrum are visible to human eyes. We know this through science, but we also know this through our faith. In Christianity, Christ is both seen and unseen, traveling through our hearts while seemingly slowed down by the coldness of others. And, like beams of light shooting out into the universe, the Light of the World will travel quickly to far places – miraculously unstoppable and unseen at the same time.
As our winter falls upon us, with our days shortening and our darkness lengthening, take time to notice the light of this world. The Light has come, the Light is raised, the Light will come again. The Advent wreath reminds us that when the world gets darker, Christ’s light shines out brighter, lighting our way to a new birth and a new light. Have a joyous Christmas!
The Reverend Dr. Michael Kuhn, Interim Head of School