Do you have a favorite oil lamp; maybe a glass or metal hurricane lamp or railroad lantern? My wife has the glass oil lamp that provided the light her mother and her aunts read by when they were children. I like railroad lanterns, but they’re difficult to find and kind of expensive. We made a trip to Lehman’s Hardware in Kidron, Ohio many years ago and I bought an American made Dietz #8 Air Pilot Lantern. Sometimes I like to leave the lights off and write or practice guitar with that lantern providing the only light.
Oil lamps can burn a variety of fuels including kerosene. I’ve heard of lamps using whale oil and even olive oil, but I’ve never owned either type. I prefer pure paraffin oil because it’s nearly smokeless and odorless. With its large oil tank, the Air Pilot can be depended upon to provide light through the stormiest nights, provided I remember to keep the tank full. I often get busy with other things and forget lamp oil evaporates over time. An empty tank is an unpleasant surprise when you need a lamp during a power outage.
No matter what kind of lamp you have, the time you need the lamp the most is the worst time to run out of oil. Growing up in Los Angeles, I went to school with, and befriended many Jewish kids. I spent a lot of time with the Pessah family and they taught me many things about their culture and faith. I loved their food and traditions. I learned about a group of soldiers who ran out of oil at a critical time in their mission. Judah Maccabee and his brothers helped retake the Holy Temple in Jerusalem from Antiochus IV Epiphanes. According to the Talmud, the wicks of the sacred Temple lamps miraculously burned for the eight days required for purification, even though there was only enough sacred oil for one day. This miracle is what is celebrated during Chanukah.
Alongside our Advent Wreath and candles, we also have a Menorah we light each night during Chanukah before we recite the blessings. We do this to remember our Jewish friends and to honor the miracle they celebrate. While watching the candles burn, I saw their reflection in my daughter’s eyes and I thought of the Scripture in chapter 6 of the Bible’s Book of Matthew which states “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light.”
If our eyes are indeed the “Lamp of the Body” then what would constitute the oil for those lamps? I would suggest the “oil” is what we see and how we see it. The eyes allow in what illumines the very heart, or soul, of the person. There have been many dark things set before our eyes this year. Hopelessness is associated with a darkened spirit. However, hope relights the “Lamp of the Body” and casts out hopelessness. If you’ve suffered loss this year and you’ve been struggling with trying to find that “oil” of hope, then this Christmas, I want to direct your focus at Jesus; God’s gift we remember with Luminaria during this darkest time of the year; the gift known as “The Light of the World”; the lamp whose oil never runs out.
© 2017 Curt Savage Media