HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, N.J. -- A flame ignited by an oil lamp in Bethlehem will make its way to a Hasbrouck Heights church for a special Christmastime service this Friday night.
"It's such a lovely and moving ceremony," Julie Lopez of Corpus Christi Church told Daily Voice. "It helps spread the mission of peace, joy and goodwill."
For more than 1,000 years, oil lamps have continuously burned in a grotto beneath the Church of the Nativity, believed to be the site where Jesus Christ was born.
Over nearly three decades, a child from Austria is selected each year to fetch the “Peace Light” from one of the lamps.
The flame is then used to light two blast-proof miners' lamps, which are then carried aboard an Austrian Airlines jet to Vienna.
There, followers light their own lamps from the Peace Light during a "Service of Dedication."
From Vienna, Boy Scouts and Guides bring the flames back to their communities, shaing it rail stations, churches and Scout meetings, as it begins spreading across Europe.
The custom is intended to serve as a reminder that Christmas is about much more than material gifts.
Since 2004, Austrian Airlines has carried the flame to JFK Airport in Queens, where people gather to light their own lamps. From there they spread the Peace Light across North America.
By Christmas, the light will have made its way to its final destination, Peace Church in Seattle.
Celebrants are invited to light their own lamps or candles as Boy Scout Pack 17 welcomes the Peace Light at an 8 p.m. service at Corpus Christi Church on Washington Place.
Candles won't be provided, organizers note, so please bring your own.
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