Santa Lucia and ISIS by Jenna Sveen

By Jenna Sveen
To keep you interested, I promise I will make a connection between Santa Lucia and ISIS. 
As you all know, I love being Scandinavian and relish in the traditions and culture that were passed down to me by my grandparents. As a pride-filled Swede, I was looking on Ikea's website yesterday (duh) for some Christmas candles that I needed. I stumbled across what appears to be Ikea's version of a blog titled "Celebrate Christmas Like a Swede." Most of the stuff I already do or at least was familiar with, however, I was reminded about the importance of light during the month of December in Sweden. Two of the tips were "No room without a candle" and "Make you indoor light come alive." The blog reminded readers that the darkest day of the year is in December and on that day in Sweden you can hardly, if at all, see the sun.Thus to combat this, Swedes fill their homes with light. Each room contains numerous candles and special Christmas lighting is put up to bring warmth to each room. They anticipate the darkest day, and in some ways embrace it, knowing that light is coming again. The Swedes embraced the Italian story of Santa Lucia, a young women who committed her life to bringing provisions to Christians that were hiding from persecution in the catacombs. In order for her to find her way in the dark, she wore a wreath of candles on her head so her hands would be free to bring food to the persecuted Christians. The imagery of bring light into dark places resonated with the Swedes and today it is a national holiday celebrated each year on December 13th. This of course coincides with the shortest day of the year, December 22. 
As Christmas approaches, we must have hearts that anticipate the light. Our world is in a dark space right now but even on the darkest day of the year, the sun (although faint) is still there. Christ is the light of our world and there is no place that he isn't, even on the darkest day. We must do all we can to cultivate and bring this light to our world. 
My home church in Chicago is partnering with Churches throughout the country to do a 30-day prayer for ISIS. As Christ said in the Beatitudes, "love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you." The light of Christ can reach even the darkest corners of the world and the people that seem to do the darkest deeds. Yet, the Lord calls on us not just to mourn with those in suffering, but actively pray for those that have caused the suffering that they may come to know the Lord Jesus Christ. 
So as you can see Santa Lucia and Terrorism are intertwined! Actively opening our hearts to be filled with the light of Christ will undoubtedly pour into our world.
Christmas - Santa Lucia Sweden


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