Saturday, April 7, 2007

Holy Fire and the Homeless

A couple of items in the news caught my eye today.

#1. In Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulcher, thousands of worshippers gathered to light candles and dance in celebration of the Orthodox Easter "holy fire" ritual. (Some also poured hot wax on their faces, but I'm not touching that one with a ten foot candle holder.) Every year, the church patriarch emerges from an underground tomb with the flame which is then shared with all the worshippers. This "holy fire" is next taken on special flights to Athens and beyond to connect the worldwide Orthodox faithful to their spiritual roots. I had never heard of this event, but apparently it dates back 1200 years or more. (Hmm... where have I been?)

#2. Our local newspaper had an article today on the increasing number of attacks on homeless people. You can read the disturbing story in its entirety here. The National Coalition for the Homeless reported 142 attacks last year against homeless people in our country, including 20 homicides. Michael Stoops, director of the coalition said, "Homeless people are the newest minority group in America that is 'OK' to hate and hurt. It's as though, somehow, they're viewed as less deserving, less human than the rest of us." There is a move underway to get these attacks categorized as hate crimes (which is what they are!)

So as both articles were bouncing around in my head, I couldn't help but connect them. The "holy fire" celebration is a powerful symbol, yet life (and faith) also calls for definitive action. My hope is that "holy fires" can be lit within ourselves to help people who are marginalized in our society (i.e. "the least of these").

Interested in learning more and helping? Click here.

1 comment:

Serena said...

Interesting ... I had just finished article in the online Seattle Times Local Section about the growth of the Orthodox church when I read this. "History repeats itself" seems borne out in the ways our young people are appreciating the ancient church traditions (Taize being another example)