Happy Hanukkah to all my friends, and those I don't know yet. This is a wonderful holiday. I realize many of my Christian friends will be scratching their heads about now....what am I talking about?!?! Well, I just want to comment a minute on this incredible Love Letter Papa's given me. I'm not suggesting everyone has to do as we do, but I'd hate for you to miss the blessing that we get simply because I didn't tell you about it but kept it all to myself. So.....let me explain.
Hanukkah is an 8 day celebration found in the Apocryphal book of 1st Maccabees in the Bible. (Most modern Bibles have pulled the Apocrypha books out of the published Bibles. A real shame, these are some incredible books from the ancient Bible! It is also mentioned in John 10:22 as the Feast of Dedication.)1st Maccabees has to do with the Jewish people fighting against the Roman army, and against impossible odds,(Does anyone else hear a "But G-d!!!"?) winning the war! It also (even more than the 'in your face' story) has to do with how Papa interjects Himself into the lives of those who believe in Him and at least attempt to follow His ways by providing for them. The Romans had desecrated the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The Maccabean family (Judah Maccabee especially) was horrified and set about cleaning, rebuilding and rededicating the Holy Temple. They only found enough sanctified oil to light the Menorah (Lampstand) for one day. But the law of Moses said it was to burn continually. So they lit the Menorah,(here's another "But G-d!!!") sent for more oil to be prepared (a task that takes days to accomplish) and went to get the oil. The Rabbi's (priests) tended the Menorah each day and although there wasn't enough oil for more than 1 or 1 1/2 days, it remained lit for 8 days until the newly prepared oil was not only ready, but arrived at the Temple. This was the second miracle of Hanukkah. (The first being that the Maccabees beat the Roman army of several thousand and reclaimed the Temple)
But as I see it, the key word in this whole explanation was 'rededication'. As my family celebrates this wonderful festival (also called the Festival of the Lights), we are choosing to find ways to rededicate our lives to Papa. The menorah used for Hanukkah (a Hanukkiah) is lit each night of the 8 nights with the Shamesh or Servant Candle. Well, of course to us that represents Jesus! He even said He was the Light of the World! And in John 10, as he went to the Temple to celebrate Hanukkah, He preached a sermon about being the light of His Father. So as we light our candles and praise Papa for His blessings to us, we talk about ways we can better reflect His light into the world around us, ways we can rededicate ourselves to following His ways more closely and spread His good news to those who don't know it. It's a WONDERFUL family time full of sweet memories being made. We also participate in Advent, so each evening, I cook special foods (I use traditional Hanukkah meals and did I mention the chocolate gelt?!?!?), we light the Advent wreath, read a devotional, discuss it, then light the Hanukkah candles, saying the prayers as we light them, sing Hanukkah songs, read from Maccabees or Judith (another Apocryphal book), discuss how the lesson of the story can be applied to us today and then praise Papa for all His goodness to us. It usually takes an hour or so each evening, but is one of our favorite times of the year. The whole evening is focused on Him! What a great way to combat the commercialism of Christmas and the darkness of so much of the daily news stations each day. I would urge everyone to research the Biblical feasts (check out Leviticus 23 and Deuteronomy 16), several times Papa says these feasts are to be celebrated as a permanent regulation for all generations. They are SUCH a blessing, and allow us to make so many more sweet memories for us and for Little Critter. (He loves the chocolate gelt we make, the driedl game and the songs of Hanukkah! He sings them all year round. LOL!) So as everyone is preparing for their Holiday season (whether Hanukkah, Christmas/New Years or a combination of both like us) I wish the Light of the Hanukkah candles shine in your hearts, the provision of our loving Papa fill your homes, and the incredible love of our Saviour radiate from your lives to all who see you. May you find your own love letters from Papa in the coming year. Shalom, Joie