APRIL 9, 2000

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before others, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
(Matthew 5: 14-16)

My dear friends in Erdely it is a pleasure and an honor for me to be with you once again on this my 4th visit to the village of Kadacs (Nagykadacs and Kisskadacs). This will be my last visit with you as minister of the First Parish in Norwell since I will be retiring in June. I will however still be on the Partner Church Council and may become the minister emeritus of the Norwell congregation, which would allow me to visit you again in the future. Whatever happens you will always be in my thoughts and prayers.

I know it is almost Easter, but I would like to share with you a Christmas story about "The Light of one Small Candle." There was a little boy named Jozsef who lived in a poor village in the forest. The people in the village were somewhat apologetic about their plain and simple rustic church, which stood near the center of the town. They would tell visitors passing through that someday they were going to build a beautiful cathedral like the one on the other side of the forest.

One cold dark Christmas Eve little Jozsef decided to make the journey through the forest to the majestic cathedral, carrying only a small candle to light his path. Jozsef was making the journey because his widowed mother was sick in bed and dying. He hoped to place his candle on the altar of the cathedral and pray that she might get well. Jozsef had heard that whoever made the journey through the forest would have to pass by a deep well that was supposed to be haunted. To protect yourself from being dragged down into its watery depths you would toss a coin into the well and pass by safely. But Jozsef was very poor and had no coin. As he came near the well he heard a deep moan—Ooo! Ooo! Ooo! Terrified, he started to run, but he tripped on a root and fell by the well’s edge. There he heard a child’s voice, "Help me out! Give me your light so I can see my way."

"This candle is for my mother," Jozsef said, trembling. "I must take it to the altar of the big church so that she will get well." The voice pleaded in reply, "Can you refuse me on this the night of Christ’s birth?" Jozsef thought a moment. Then he threw the candle into the well and fell weeping on his knees in the darkness. Suddenly, the light returned. Looking up, Jozsef saw a beautiful child stepping out of the well holding the little candle in his hand. "Go back home," said the child. "Your mother will live."

Jozsef ran home and found his mother waiting for him at the door looking as though she had never been ill. Later that night, they went together to their simple village church to give thanks. When they entered the doors of the church they were nearly blinded by the light which streamed from the altar. Bathed in such splendor, the old church was every bit as beautiful as the majestic cathedral at the other end of the forest.

"Why, Jozsef," exclaimed his mother, "there is only one candle on the altar. How can one candle make such light?" Jozsef was too awed to speak, for as he knelt before the altar he saw that it was his very own candle. The light he had given away had been given back a thousand fold.

It has been noted that though Jesus of Nazareth was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman, and though he never traveled more than 200 miles from the place of his birth, yet his single life affected more people upon this earth than "all the armies that have ever marched, all the parliaments that have ever sat, all the kings that have ever reigned." The light of his life still shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. We sometimes forget, however, what Jesus taught. He said that your life, and my life, could be like a light that shines in the darkness, so much so that together we can be the light of the world, like "a city set on a hill." The great 19th century Unitarian preacher, Theodore Parker, once said, "Let there be a thousand, thousand Christs." By this he meant that every human being has a spark of the divine within them, and that, like Jesus, we can let our light shine in the darkness.

We have a tradition in our church in Norwell on Christmas Eve. Each member of the congregation is given a small candle. At the close of the service we sing "Silent Night" and begin the Passing of the Light from the minister to the ushers to the members of the congregation until the whole church is illuminated by the light of 300 candles. It is a beautiful ceremony. What the passing of the light of the candles symbolizes is the passing of love and compassion and service to one another, to those in need, and to all humankind. Every time you help another human being, or express a kindness in word or deed, or give of your time and treasure to make the world a better place, you light a candle, and pass the light onto others, till the glow of that single candle, multiplied a thousand-fold, would fill a cathedral.

It is our earnest hope and prayer that the gift of this chalice with its single candle will be a constant reminder to you of the 300 Unitarians in Norwell and the 200,000 Unitarian Universalists in America and around the globe who are linked arm and arm to each and every one of you, the members of the Unitarian Church in Kadacs. You are not alone. We are your brothers and sisters and we share a common faith with you in reason, freedom and tolerance. We belive that truth liberates and love celebrates the gift of life. It may only be the light of a single candle, but the light of that candle multiplied a thousand fold can fill a cathedral. The light of truth and love can shine in Kadacs and Erdely no less than in Norwell and America. Don’t keep your light under a bushel basket, but let it shine and give glory to the Giver of Life and Love and Freedom. Isten aldja. Isten eltesse. So be it. Amen.

In closing, we would like to sing a hymn for you called, "This Little Light of Mine." The words are as follows: