Rev. Kenneth Fellenbaum

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Milford, Connecticut, United States

Bible Verse of the Day

Friday, December 11, 2009

Celebration of Light

Two thousand years ago, about the time of Christ's birth, there was a Jewish sect that was called the Essenes who lived primarily on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea. The name "Essenes" means "Holy Ones." They lived an ascetic lifestyle and closely followed the Jewish Law. Existing in the desert required hard work and a commitment to community.

Down through the millennia, light has stood for and represented divine inspiration and guidance. Quite naturally light has been a central feature in religious celebrations such as Hanukkah and Christmas. In Hanukkah, Jews remember that during the time of the Macabees the one-day of supply of oil miraculously lasted eight days. At Christmas, Christians celebrate the incarnation of light in Jesus' birth and life.

The Essenes considered themselves to be "the children of light." They viewed the world as being made up of "children of light" and "children of darkness." The Essenes saw a struggle between the forces of good and evil in the world.

One day some years ago while visiting Qumran, the site of their community ruins, I picked up a white and black stone. I have kept these in the pencil tray of my desk drawer to remind myself of this spiritual battle. We are all acutely aware of this today from the 24/7 news about the war on terrorism and frequent reports of crime.

Each day everyone of us has to make choices that will affect others and ourselves. Will we act according to the light of revelation, whether it is what is written in our heart (conscience) or Scriptures; or will we follow the base, lower, and sinful side of self? Will we conduct ourselves as "children of light" or "children of darkness" is the question that we all daily decide. (John 12:36).

In his "Sermon on the Mount," Jesus told his disciples, "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:14-16).