Peace Light of Bethlem returns to Bedford Presbyterian Church
For the second consecutive year, Gretchen Osgood of Bedford and her son, Joshua, a Boy Scout in Manchester Troop 135, picked up the light at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York and brought it to the church to share with the community.
The Peace Light, a holiday tradition in Europe since 1986, was shared by American Boy Scouts the same day their European counterparts received it in Vienna, Austria.
Each year, a child from Austria retrieves the light from Bethlehem. It is carried in two blast-proof miners lamps on an Austrian Airlines jet from Tel Aviv, Israel, to Vienna, Austria, and is not permitted to go out.
From there, it is distributed at a ceremony to delegates from across Europe, who take it back with a message of peace to their own countries.
Austrian Airlines then flies the lit lamps containing the Peace Light to New York City.
Osgood said that for a second year, she was "thrilled by the response."
Those attending said the event brought to focus the meaning of the holiday season.
Amy Beck of Bedford, who attended for the second year, said receiving the light reminded her of a simpler Christmas, without the stress of holiday preparations.
"Seeing the Peace Light helps me to take pause and enjoy the greatest gift of all, which was Jesus' birth," she said.
Her daughter Amy was celebrating a birthday that day, and the family brought a cupcake to light with the Peace Light.
"What an amazing and meaningful way to make a birthday wish, off of the light of Bethlehem," she said.
Evelyn Chessie of Bedford said that seeing the light brought to the community by local Boy Scouts gave her a new faith in today's youth.
"As I heard the Boy Scouts recite the pledge of the Peace Light, it warmed by heart," she said. "It was an honor to be part of this special event, and such a joy to share the light with my family and friends."
Karen Hagy, Pastor of the Bedford Presbyterian Church, lit the Peace Light 27 times in honor of those who died in Newtown, Connecticut, the previous Friday.
"I am deeply glad we were able to host and share the Peace Light from Bethlehem at the Bedford Presbyterian Church," she said. "In light of the tragedy at Sandy Hook School this past week, the message of peace and peacemaking is more important than ever."
Hagy said sharing the Peace Light and working to model what it represents is an expression of faith, and a way to strengthen community.
"We hope that all who experienced the Peace Light will be blessed with peace this Christmas," she said.