“Liberating the Light,” A Sermon for the Hanukah Season


The Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein


*Correction: the quote that I attributed to “a rabbi” was actually by Viktor Frankl, Holocaust survivor and author of Man’s Search for Meaning.

This is a nice, short sermon that I had an emotional connection to even though I never quite got the structure clear on it. It’s a weird one… I’m talking about the light and sacrifice and then BAM out of nowhere I make this abrupt transition into talking about the holidays. Then I take the congregation on a big, huge happy loop way around the subject before I get back to the tough stuff about light and sacrifice. I am truly fortunate that they are such good listeners and willing to take the ride with me.

I wanted SO badly to weave in the story of Moses and the burning bush here. I tried and tried but I just couldn’t find a way to make my point in a brief fashion to a congregation that might not be familiar with this image in Scripture. I wanted to use “the bush burned but was not consumed” as a kind of exclamation point or a grinding of salt on the top of the dish, you know, but I wound up having to do all of this explanation of the Scripture passage, setting it in context, and that killed the rhythm of how I wanted to use it. I hate sermons that contain too many big expositions so I try not to do that to my own congregation.

It’s a shame because it’s such a brilliant moment –a way of saying, “We burn and are consumed but God is not.” But you can’t pop that at a congregation for whom this image of the burning bush might be unfamiliar or confusing and expect them to get it. It’s not fair. And so I cut that piece.

We could all write a bajillion sermons about the metaphor of light, you know? But I was so taken with Frankl’s quote — the exact thing he said is, “What is to give light must endure the burning.” I couldn’t remember where I had seen it for the life of me. Of course I found the quote the day after I delivered the sermon. But it stayed with me for a good week after I read it. I couldn’t shake it. Still can’t. This is one of those times you wish you had about a year to think about something before speaking about it, but I liked it enough to want to share it right away as an idea. We can always delve more deeply into it later.

Thanks for listening.

Welcome Back, Pigeons!!

The HILLS are alive, with the sound of PeaceBang!!

I abandoned this blog about two years ago so that I could focus on finishing my Doctor of Ministry degree. That mission is accomplished and I graduated on May 21 in a funny hat and with many beloved friends and parishioners present. Thank you for your expressions of support and congratulations throughout the process. I am now the proud owner of a big whomping dissertation called “Covenanting: Ancient Promise and New Life For the Contemporary Church” which I think deserves to be published but you know, I just don’t feel like doing the work to get it to publishers. Maybe later, after I’ve had a few beers and thrown some books down a flight of stairs to release the tension.

The Facebook and Twitter phenomena took off right after I stopped blogging here, so I have been carrying on a lively discussion over at Facebook (as PeaceBang), which I will continue to do. I love the discipline of having to condense my blatherings to a few pithy phrases, which means that I will be blogging here on a less frequent basis than I used to. As I remarked to a crowd of Unitarian Universalists earlier this week at our General Assembly workshop on ministry and social media, I am verbally manic, so this is a health practice for me. No, it really is. If not for all of you I might be in a rubber room somewhere pontificating to the walls.

So this blog will be for the lengthier blatherings. It will be for podcasts and for a nice long coffee or cocktail break, as opposed to the shots of espresso we’re all tossing back as we stand at the Facebook bar. The PeaceBang blog may occasionally even be as long as a dinner party or a retreat as we converse at luxurious lengths about issues facing the Church, the soul, the world, and “RuPaul’s Drag Race, Season 4,” or whatever tickles our fancy. I have such a ticklish fancy, as you know!

My dear friend and partner in crime, the Rev. Scott Wells, has continued to advise me and to construct this blog. I really couldn’t do this without him.