Thursday, December 17, 2020

Interfaith Reflections on Chanukah and Advent

I write this post approaching the last night of Chanukah even as I contemplate the meaning of of Advent. Traditions of both holidays inspire us to light candles in winter, the darkest season of the year. This winter, facing the highest daily rates of death from COVID-19 yet, is very dark. Yet the glow of the candles brings me a centering sense of purpose.

A hanukiah lit for the 3rd night of Chanukah

The Chanukah theme of Resistance reminds me that our individual lights can beat back the darkness. We can and must lean on each other to resist the suffering, loneliness, and despair caused by the pandemic. In the words of Rabbi Brant Rosen, “True resistance can never occur as long as we expect an external human force to somehow show up to save us. In the end, the true miracle of resistance occurs when we show up for one another.”

An Advent wreath
Photo: Rev. Pamela Dolan

The Advent theme of Hope swells up in me whenever I see pictures of our elderly and
 frontline health workers receiving the first COVID-19 vaccines. Although it will be months before my family receives immunizations (and even longer for my family and friends in small countries overseas), I tearfully recognized that it has been ages since I felt a hope that seems real and urgent instead of abstract and far away.

Whether you’re bringing groceries to someone hungry, talking to someone lonely, caring for someone ill, caring for your family, or speaking out to make the world more fair than it was before the pandemic... keep resisting and don’t lose hope.

Be a light for someone. It’s dark out there, but we can be here for each other.

Chanukah Sameach!

Cindy holding a candle in the darkness

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