The other night we were both pleased and privileged to attend Victoria’s public Menorah lighting at Centennial Square – the same place where we’d been a couple of weeks before to celebrate the annual Christmas tree lighting and Santa Claus parade.
It seemed somehow fitting to have both the Christmas lights and the holiday ferris wheel as a backdrop to this event because when the rabbi announced that Congregation Emanu-El is sponsoring one of the refugee families from Syria and people applauded, he followed by saying, “I don’t think applause is necessary. It just seems like the right thing to do.” And so it is.
For the Jewish people present it was an opportunity to celebrate the last night of Hanukkah with the lighting of (Vancouver Island’s largest) Hanukkiah – each candle lit by a different child from those present – and the singing of the blessing. It was also much more than that. It was an opportunity for outreach and connection.
If you ask people to define the word church – to some it represents a building, to others an organization, to others a way of life, and to some an outmoded concept. But among the earliest definitions of the word church is something much simpler and much more profound. A church is a gathering of people to celebrate spiritual ideas. The word spirit comes from the Latin word spiritus, meaning ‘breath’. A church then, in essence, is a celebration of Life. There was ceremony, however informal, and there were prayers. There was also dancing and singing and hugging and families and friends engaging each other. There was Love. And there were doughnuts. What could be better than that?!?!
P.S. Thanks also to the Vic High Rhythm and Blues Band for providing such great music! They’re really good!