After the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968, economic, social, and racial divisions threatened to tear Memphis apart. A diverse group of community and faith leaders came together and MIFA was created to confront the issues of poverty, hunger, and social division through service.
2020 brought another crisis to Memphis. In a series of blogs, some of our current-day faith leaders have taken time to express their visions and hopes on healing and coming out of the pandemic better and stronger as a community.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. Christian Bible John 1:5 NIV
From the lighting of the menorah to the lighting of the kinara, this time of year marks the time when we collectively pause, during the darkest days of our year, to prepare for light.
Our Jewish family members celebrate The Festival of Lights, celebrating the rededication of the Holy Temple and the miracle of how a single day’s measure of oil miraculously stayed lit for eight nights. Our Christian family members celebrate Advent, the season of great expectation of the Anointed One, who will bring light into the world. Our Hindu family members celebrate Diwali/Dipawali, celebrating the inner light that protects from spiritual darkness. Even the celebration of Winter Solstice marks the day of the year with the least sunlight and therefore, the longest night. All around us is an invitation to honor and celebrate the gifts of light and darkness. Yes, I invite you to consider the gifts of them both.
Author Richard Paul Evans reminds us, It is often in the darkest skies that we see the brightest stars. Indian philosopher Rabindranath Tagore reminds us, Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark.
What would happen to the light and darkness in our lives and our world if instead of seeing them as opposing one another, we consider them as gifts to one another. What if light shines in darkness because darkness invites the light. What if darkness does not need to overcome light because it is not resistant to it?
Having lived through this season of great strife, dissension and discord may we pause, prepare and search through it all for the gifts found in the light and darkness around us.
John’s Gospel in the Christian Bible says, The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. It is my hope that this season gifts to you a greater appreciation for the sweet darkness of night so that the joy of the morning will be even sweeter for you. May you consider the words of French poet Victor Marie Hugo wrote, What makes night within us may leave stars. As you celebrate with family and friends, may you remember that the greatest gift formed in the utter darkness of the womb is the gift of life.
May the gifts of light and darkness meet us in new ways this year at the intersection of our faith, festivals, and celebrations.
Amen. Ameen. Ase’ and Namaste.