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Distinguishing Between Worship and Veneration Part 3: The Parable of the Light


There lived a man in a small town by the country, who spent much of his time inventing. Usually he would make practical things. Twice or thrice they had brought great change and fame. But every once in a while he would invent something that had no purpose other than to be enjoyed. And these he would display at the annual Festival of the Harvest. A time when from the centre of town, to the houses surrounding, all the streets would be full of booths and activities.

A few months prior to the event, he decided to build a large dome beside his home. The time for celebrations came and many arrived to see what wonder he had hidden inside. Upon entering they found it cold and dark. So much so that when the doors were shut, one couldn’t see their hand before their eyes.

Suddenly, there in the middle of the room, a bright light appeared. Hovering above a blue pillar was a large white flame. Almost like a tear drop. There was no smoke. And it appeared almost liquid like in its ebbs and flows. Carrying with it vibrant strands of colour in the waves. It was accompanied by a low growling wind, which almost seemed to vibrate through the crowd. And in the room it seemed as though every shadow had disappeared. The limits of the dome became so faint that the room almost felt like an expanse of light. Though amazed, everyone stood silent until once the light faded and once again the room went dark. “Again!” They cried in loud applause. But the man insisted that this would only happen once an hour for five minutes. Word soon spread of this mysterious light. The smokeless flame. And over the years people came from all over the country to see it.

There came a time the man fell ill to a sickness that had no cure. He knew that his time was short, but the list of his ideas were long. So he entrusted the keeping of the flame to the younger of his two daughters who had remained single. While the eldest having long gone to another city raising a family of her own. Shortly after he passed and for the first time in 10 years, the dome was not open during the Festival.

The following year, construction went in to the dome, increasing its size. Indeed the whole house where her father had lived was torn down. And it was announced that after the Festival, the light would be open for display once a week all year round. Also that some other changes would be added. However, the youngest daughter, being a very important person dealing with other affairs, would not to attend the unveiling of the new dome. And so she had entrusted the duty to her most excellent servant. He would be in charge of hiring helpers as well as opening and shutting the dome. Guarding the light and everything inside. Though it was already well known what had happened to a fellow who had been so foolish as to try and grab the flame.

People lined up with excitement on the day to see what new things had taken place. Among them was the eldest daughter, who had come with her own husband and children for the first time to see the light. In honour of her father’s memory. It already struck her as odd that the house was no longer there. So too her sister was nowhere to be found, but a stranger was opening the event to the crowd. Entering the dome, there were metal railings going around its circumference. With violet curtains hiding whatever lay behind. Everyone was told to stay behind until the doors were shut and the curtains lifted. When it was full to capacity, they the servant had the doors behind them shut. And as darkness took over again, the cheering died down and all went quiet. Slowly the curtains parted away, and with each ray of light, warmth came filled the crowd. The dome had been completely transformed on the inside. Beautiful patterns, images and mosaics filled its walls. Dancing as it were with the various colours that ebbed from the light. Various multi-coloured glasses and crystal-like orbs hung from walls. Illumined by the flames rays. While various prism like sculptures and structures, including one of the man himself, displayed the light in various forms. So too as the wind passed by certain of them, soft tones could heard. As well as the soft clinging of glass. Harmoniously with the low growl, the sound moved in volume like a wave across the room. And there in the centre bright and mesmerising, danced the flame.

After the first round had been completed, everyone left over joyed at the new sights and sounds. Everyone, except for the eldest daughter. Upset by the change, filled with both zeal and love for the memory of her father, she marched through the crowd, straight to head servant.

“You!” she said, with a long accusing finger pointed at him, “How dare you change my father’s designs? How dare you add to his work? Who do you think you are? Who gave you the right? And where is my sister?”

Startled at first by sudden advance, the servant soon recognized both by the seal on her ring and the resemblance to his employer, that she was the eldest daughter.

“I’m sorry,” he began, “there seems to be some confusion. I was appointed by your sister, who is away at a council with various nobles, to both hire the helpers for the day and keep the gates to the dome. The sealed paperwork is all in place I assure you. And as to the changes, it was neither my idea nor my doing. Your father, may his memory rest, before his passing gave your sister instructions on how to do all these things.” After inspecting the documents stating his authority, she only became more enraged.

“Surely these are fraudulent,” she argued, “even so, if she did in fact hire you, that doesn’t mean this was her doing. I know that she is a busy person. And surely you are an innovator! Thinking to make profit for yourself you added all these distractions. Even still, if she did tell you to do all of this, my father certainly would not have wished such things. Where are the documents and designs that he himself penned speaking of these additions?”

“We do not have many of them, and the ones we do have don’t go so far into detail. As he passed soon after starting. Rather it was left up to your sister to both finish and design what he had started. And even if we produced them for you, what’s to say you won’t also call those documents fraudulent? Since you don’t believe me about my contract to hold this job, why would you believe anything else that I present you?’

At this point, the eldest sister stayed silent for a few moments. Then she began reflecting on how much had changed since the last time she had been to this place. How her childhood home no longer stood. How she had been too late and missed the last few days of her father’s life. And how the only thing she had left of him, was no longer how she remembered. Once again she became vexed, tearfully arguing her case one last time with the servant.

“No way, I won’t accept it,” she cried, “my father loved his invention. And he would never add things that ruined it so badly. Or took away from its original beauty. Those designs and sculptures, the prisms and windstruments, they take away and distract from the flame. From its shine, from its music. All of it is nonsense. Innovations. Idols as it were in the presence of the real beauty.” The servant’s heart went out to the daughter, whom he understood to still be grieving her loss. Not wanting to prolong the situation, he beckoned her to come into the dome. And there he pointed to an image of her father, on the wall. To his left stood the eldest daughter with her hands in his, as she held her own sister’s hand, who held that of her mother’s. The various colours of glass, the prims and mosaics, which decorated their clothing all seemed to glisten by the flames light. And the smile on her father’s face would move ever so slightly if one looked carefully enough.

“We recognise,” said the servant, “that it is your father’s original work which is the only reason any of this exists. But the rest was his gift to you, in his passing, that you should have a place like this filled with both memories and things you all liked, and that they with the rest of the room, would come alive with flame. To experience your dreams, your memories afresh. And to share this with those who you care about and those who might appreciate it. While it is true that flame in the middle of the room is the source of all the rays. It is still that same light which fills the gems. Which bounces off the walls. Illumines the prisms. And each thing participates in that light, displaying its beauty in their own unique way. But what are they without the light? What good is an image that cannot be seen? Likewise the windstruments through which the very same breeze from the flame flows. Their tune joins in with the song of the light. Playing in harmony with its low rumble and high hush. But what good are these devices without the flame to conduct and play the music? Of what use is an instrument you can’t hear? Just as it would be wrong for us to say that your father’s flame is secondary or of little value in light of all that surrounds it, it would be just as untrue, and just as much an offense to his work to say these things can come so close to such a wonder and remain unaffected. The flame loses nothing by sharing its fire. Anymore than you can belittle the source of a light by appreciating its rays wherever the fall.”


Exodus 3:2-5 “There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.” When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.” “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”

Exodus 34:29-35 “When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. But Moses called to them; so Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and he spoke to them. Afterward all the Israelites came near him, and he gave them all the commands the Lord had given him on Mount Sinai. When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face. But whenever he entered the Lord’s presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the Lord.”

Matthew 17:1-8 “And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.”

2 Corinthians 3:18  “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

For more on this issue:

Distinguishing Between Worship and Veneration 1

“When We See Him, We Shall Be Like Him.”


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This entry was posted on January 2, 2016 by in Short Stories, Theology, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , .
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