As the hectic holiday season approaches, several faith communities ask residents from all faith backgrounds to join centering spiritual events that use candlelight and music as a refuge from the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and what some are calling "Thanksgivukkah," considering Hanukkah and Thanksgiving overlap this year.
At St. John's Episcopal Church, a low-key, candlelit Celtic music celebration on Dec. 1 aims to set the tone for the season by inviting participants to "leave the busy world behind. Breathe. Sit in peace," according to St. John's rector, Susan Springer.
"Solas," a Celtic music performance including the harp, fiddle, Irish drum and flute, takes place at 6 p.m. Dec. 1 at the church, 1419 Pine St.
"Solas" is the Irish word for light but could also mean beacon, assurance or solace, Springer pointed out in a letter to her congregation.
"December marks the advent of one of the busiest times of the year for many people," she wrote. "From Christmas shopping to final exams, school pageants, and holiday parties, the pace of life can seem a little out of control.
"As an antidote to that business, the Solas liturgy will offer an evening of sanctuary and peace."
The event is open to anyone who wants to reflect on the season in a candlelit room meant to evoke the feeling of a quiet sanctuary and reflect on their own spirituality, she said. Participants also may stay for a simple meal after the event, she said.
Other community events ask residents to use candlelight as a way to stop everyday life and remember those who have died.
Chabad, of Northwest Metro Denver, will dedicate a Hanukkah menorah to the memory of Jessica Ridgeway, the 10-year-old who was kidnapped from her Westminster neighborhood and murdered in October 2012. The solemn event is scheduled for 3 p.m. Dec. 1 at the new Jessica Ridgeway Park, 10765 Moore St.
Steve Brodsky, a local guitar player, will sing Hanukkah songs to set the tone, and Sara Ridgeway, Jessica's mother, will light the menorah.
Community members of all faiths and backgrounds are encouraged to attend, according to Rabbi Benjy Brackman, who has headed up similar community menorah-lighting events in the Boulder and north Denver areas in past years.
Although the Ridgeways are not Jewish, Brackman said the family related to the message of Hanukkah at a similar menorah lighting that took place last year, shortly after Jessica's death.
"We don't stamp out darkness with a broom but rather by lighting a candle," Rabbi Brackman wrote in an email. "And therefore the message of the menorah is for each of us to remember Jessica by becoming a beacon of light to those around you and to society at large."
Brackman said a community effort is under way to raise money for and dedicate the 9-foot-tall menorah, which will be used first for the memorial menorah lighting. Then, the menorah will be displayed near Westminster City Hall in memory of Jessica.
Brackman said the menorah will include some special features to help the community remember Jessica's vibrant life and personality: In addition to including a photo of Jessica, the electric flames will be lit in her favorite color, purple.
For more information about Chabad's memorial menorah lighting or to donate to the cause, visit COJewish.com/Jessica.
For more information about St. John's Episcopal Church performance of "Solas," visit stjohnsboulder.org.
Megan Quinn writes a faith column once a week for the Camera. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.