|The author is unknown but this is one of my favorites - every year|
For the length of my married life and for a good length of time before that, we have celebrated both Christmas and Hanukkah. It’s something I began before my husband and I were even dating and a celebration that he has segued into more smoothly than I could even imagine. But here’s the thing that tends to throw my friends (and sometimes family) if they don’t already know:
We’re not Jewish.
We’re not even messianic Jews (go Google that one). Just a plain old Christ-believing family with an additional tradition that helps usher in one of the quietest, holiest days of the year. Growing up, I remember sharing the Passover and Hanukkah with friends of our family who were Jewish, and then shared a home with a college roommate and her family who also shared both celebrations.
After hearing several presentations on finding Christ in the Passover, I started gaining a deeper understanding of the Old Testament prophesies and their fulfillment in the New Testament. It gave these traditions and festivals a new life – one I now had a connection to as a child of God grafted into the covenant of Abraham.
Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. Galatians 3:7-9
For Hanukkah, we simply focus on the Menorah – the lighting of the lights. We talk a little about the history behind it, but much of what we share is about the miracles that God works, has worked, and is working. In the past in history, in our lives, and what He still does today. I have a wonderful book by the Rabbi David Aaron, Inviting God In, Celebrating the Soul-Meaning of the Jewish Holy Days, and while not everything applies, some things do.
One metaphor he uses that I especially like is about imaginary flashlights and what they might show:
Imagine for a moment that you have walked into a magic store that sells special flashlights equipped with different kinds of magic lights. For example, if you shine the “light of science” on your hand, you see not a hand but cells and blood vessels and tendons and ligaments. Another flashlight might be called the “light of art,” and if you point it at your hand you see form and color and texture as if your hand were a painting by Leonardo da Vinci. You are having a lot of fun trying out the different lights, and then you see one labeled ‘the light of Hanukkah.” What will you see in that light?”
The light of Hanukkah is about miracles. About a God who reveals things as new; who defies reason and logic; and who created something from nothing. And is the God of the impossible.
Some people roll their eyes at talk of miracles and continue to call it impossible, impractical, and intolerable. As if God needed to be contained in a manageable box that we could wrap our minds around and understand. Though it sometimes terrifies me, there is something I also love about the unknowingness of God. I don’t want to be able to grasp all of Him. I want there to always be something else outside my realm of understanding. I want Him to be so much more than I could ask or imagine. I want Him – no I need Him to be the God of miracles.
In the light of Hanukkah we see that everything is a miracle, that anything is possible, and that hope shines eternal.
And so each season, we open the first of the winter holiday boxes (this year really early!), bring out the Menorah, the candles, the blue plate with the star of David; we roast the chicken, stir the honeyed carrots, fry the latkes in the oil. And we light the lights.
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