OSAGE | The Bethlehem Peace Light has arrived in Osage, for the first time.
The light, whose initial source was the eternal flame from Manger Square, in Bethlehem, was brought to the U.S. via an Austrian Airlines jet in early December.
Since that time other candles have been lighted off its flame, and the light has spread across the U.S. This year marks the third year the light has been brought to Iowa. The Peace Light, however, has been in existence in Europe for over 25 years. The idea for the light originated in Austria.
Each year, An Austrian child fetches the light from the grotto in Bethlehem where Jesus was born. The light is then flown to Austria from where it is distributed. The Peace Light first came to New York in 2001 by Canadian Scouts who brought the light to Ground Zero.
First United Methodist Church parishioner Cal Nicklay brought the light back from its Iowa distribution point in Urbandale on Friday. It has since been located in the entryway of the First UMC, where all citizens are invited to light their candles in support of peace in the world this season. Some will choose to keep their flames burning perpetually – organizers caution that flames be kept in safe containers, designed for that purpose – whereas others will choose to keep their flames alight for a shorter time.
UMC Pastor Sam Mack said she was taken with the idea of a Peace Light, “spreading across Europe, then here” and its symbolism.
“I thought it was a good reminder that peace is possible; and as Christ is the light of the world, this light is the promise of peace,” she said. She has also presented the information to her fellow members of the local ministerium. Other churches have been invited to spread the word to their congregations.
On Saturday, UMC member Darlene Anderson was lighting her home candle off the Peace Light flame. The idea of a Peace Light had special significance to her, since “I have a grandson serving in Afghanistan.”
“I would certainly like to have peace in the world; we could stand a little peace at home doesn’t hurt, either,” Anderson said.
The annual event in Iowa is sponsored by Iowa Religious Media Services and the Mid-Iowa Council of the Boy Scouts.
The UMC is open from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. each day.