Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Happy Hanukkah!

Hanukkah, or the Festival of the Dedication, is a Jewish holiday that remembers how God was with the people during a time of great struggle.  The Greek Emperor Antiochus persecuted the Jews and wished to make them give up their identity, their God and their temple worship.  His troops swept into Jerusalem and took over the temple,  bringing in statues of the Greek gods and making an offering of pigs -- heretical to the Jews.  The people revolted, and took back the temple.  In order to rededicate the temple to the One God, they needed oil to relight the eternal flame.  But in the sacking of Jerusalem they could only find enough oil for one day.  God made the oil last 8 days, when supplies came to refill the oil.  Therefore, during Hanukkah we light candles for 8 days and eat oily foods to celebrate God's miracle of keeping the holy light going.

Jesus was a faithful Jew, who celebrated the Jewish festivals.  
He would not have celebrated Christmas, or his own birthday,
 but celebrated Hanukkah.

Hanukkah is mentioned in our Gospels, in John 10:22 Jesus is walking in the temple during the festival of the Dedication.   There is a nasty confrontation with some of the leaders, and Jesus has to flee their wrath.  But clearly, Jesus is at the temple during the festival and assumedly participating in the spiritual life of the Hanukkah holiday.

So what?

Well, here is another opportunity to celebrate God at work during this holy-days season.  Take some time to look up Hanukkah traditions, light a candle tonight and eat some oily fried foods (remember, its all about God making the oil last!)  Remember that we are brothers and sisters with our Jewish neighbors and that our God is their God.

Hanukkah is more Biblical than Rudolph, Frosty or even (gasp!) Santa - so go ahead and light some candles and praise the God of light!