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Chaplain's Reflections
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Rev. Kristin Sullivan, School Chaplain

Advent and Diwali - the importance of light

Now that the time has changed, I feel the seasonal change in a much more tangible way. Often when I leave school in the evening, it has already begun to get dark, and at times it feels during this season like the darkness closes in around us. In the warmth of our homes, we surround ourselves with light. Lamps, candles, floodlights; we are on a constant mission to stave off the darkness that presses in on us.

This contrast between light and dark also plays a big part in our religious observances. This weekend, those who follow the Hindu and Sikh religions will be celebrating Diwali, a holiday that is often called the festival of lights. Diwali celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil. Candles, called Diyas, light up the darkness and serve as a reminder of the move towards the good.

In just a few weeks, Christians enter into the season of Advent. In the Christian faith, this is the season of preparation for the coming of Christ. Advent is full of references to darkness and light. Jesus is the light that is coming into the world and the light that the darkness cannot contain. Traditionally during our advent chapels we light candles on the Advent wreath. Each week we add another candle, progressively increasing the light as we approach Christmas and the coming of Christ. Each week as the days get shorter and darker, our Advent wreath gets brighter. 

Advent also offers us the opportunity to turn toward God in a season that can become busy with shopping, parties, and preparations. Even a simple practice of prayer, or lighting an advent wreath, can help to turn our hearts towards God. In the portal, I have added a topic board to each religion class page with suggested activities for Advent. There are various activities for families, as well as devotionals for adults.

This year it feels a little darker than it has in the past. Certainly our holiday celebrations will look different because the ways that we celebrate are colored by the world outside and the events that surround us. A worldwide pandemic, social and political unrest, and the uncertainty of what our future holds, all add to the weight of our lives. Perhaps this is a year when we need Diwali and Advent more than ever. They serve as a reminder that the light always triumphs over the darkness. 

Faithfully Yours,

School Chaplain
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