This is the time of year when the thoughts of many turn to Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, as they celebrate the Christmas holiday. Once again, the Peace Light has made its way from Bethlehem to Perry and and all over the United States and Europe.
The light has been at the home of Bill and Rhonda Olson of Perry and was passed on to Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church in Perry on Dec. 20 and is being displayed on a lantern.
Every year, a child from Austria fetches the light from the eternal flame in Bethlehem and carries it to Vienna, Austria. It is then distributed around Europe and flown to New York City and distributed around the United States and the rest of North America.
Boy Scouts help pass the light around, lantern to lantern, to help it get across North America. The Olsons harvested the light from the Iowa Church Council in Des Moines and it is also at the Boy Scout Council in Des Moines.
As of Tuesday, Dec. 20, the map at www.peacelight.org already showed that the light had made its way to southern California.
“It’s like real fire, it travels quick,” said Pastor Jeremy Winter of Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church. The light has been at the church for each of the three years that Winter has been at Mt. Olivet and was there for a year or two before that as well.
Bill said that he also takes it to St. Peter Lutheran Church in Grimes and to Dallas Center United Methodist Church on Christmas Eve and said that Dec. 20 is the earliest that it has been taken to Mt. Olivet.
“We’re just trying to get the word out that it’s available, but the flame is spreading like the word of Christ is supposed to have spread like we’re commanded to do,” Bill said.
He went on to say that it’s a lot like when Jesus was born and shepherd and the wise men passed the word along and that the news spread quickly around the region.
Mt. Olivet will host a Christmas Eve service that will be lit only by the Peace Light on the candles throughout the church. Winter said that having the Peace Light in the church helps make Christmas as special as it can be.
“When you have everybody shining that light that comes from right where Jesus was born on the day we’re celebrating Jesus being born, it’s illuminating everyone in the church,” Winter said.
Rhonda went on to say that the light has a “special glow to it” during the Christmas Eve service and Winter said that’s what Christmas is all about.
“You want to leave church glowing with the light,” Winter said. “I think it does. It brings that warmth, it brings that light, it brings that glow. It just brings something extra special to Christmas and to our worship.”
Pastor Pam Deeds from Dallas Center United Methodist Church said that they will also use the light for their Christmas Eve Candle Light service.
“We were so blessed when Bill offered to bring us the Peace Light last year,” Deeds said. “I hope we may continue to share that light each year as we celebrate the Christ Child’s birth.”
She said that she starts the service by carrying the Peace Light to the front and then uses a candle and passes the light around to the congregation while they sing “Silent Night,” the last hymn of the night.
“The sanctuary lights will be dimmed so that the Peace Light will reflect the light of God’s love throughout the congregation,” Deeds said.
Those who would like to harvest some of the light can either stop by Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church or contact the Olsons.
Mt. Olivet Church at 920 15th Street in Perry is open most days for those to come in and light their lanterns or candles with the Peace Light and take it home with them. Those wanting the light can also call the church at 465-5298.
Those who want to get the light from the Olsons can call them at 465-4095 and arrange a time to go and harvest it from them.
The Christmas Eve service, lit by the Peace Light, will be on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church. Dallas Center United Methodist Church will also have their Christmas Eve service at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
St. Peter Lutheran Church in Grimes will have three candle light services on Christmas Eve. Services will be held at 4 p.m., 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.