I love decorating the dining room table for festive occasions, a trait I’ve learned from my mother who’s skilled in this particular area. Crystal candlestick holders, my parent’s wedding china, and a new freshly pressed blue tablecloth are spread about. The perfect fixings for a fancy table.
At this time of year, you no doubt assume I’m decorating for Christmas, but as the title may have given it away, my family decides to light up the candles instead of the tree.
Common misconceptions that people have about the celebration of Hanukkah are 1) It is the Jewish equivalent to Christmas and 2) it is exclusively a Jewish holiday.
Let me inform you of how Hanukkah is a treasure to Christians and Jews alike. After all, the Jesus that we love and serve was/is indeed a Jew.
(Our Hanukkah table 2016!)
Hanukkah commemorates an event in history that occurred approximately 160 years before Jesus’s birth. It was a revolution to take back Jerusalem and the temple of God from a governor who oppressed the Jews and outright insulted God.
Judah Maccabee, a strong warrior and leader, allowed God to fight on his side to overcome the Greeks and ultimately restore the temple of God. The Maccabees remind us how crucial it is to stand up for what you believe in, especially when it comes to God.
Hanukkah has several names including the Festival of Lights and the Feast of Dedication. The Bible even records Jesus being in Jerusalem for the winter Feast of Dedication (John 10:22).
The observance is called the Feast of Dedication because the Jews had to rededicate the temple after the Greeks had severely defiled it.
In honor of this feast, this time of year is the perfect time to rededicate your heart, God’s temple, to Him once again. We all have been dealing with junk in whatever way or form, and the need to get rid of it seems so much more prevalent as we enter into the new year.
Finally, Hanukkah is celebrated primarily by lighting the lights of a Hanukkiah, a nine stemmed candelabra. Inside the temple, God commanded a set of menorahs, the seven stemmed candelabra, to be lit constantly.
Though the lighting comes from the remembrance of a miraculous legend, the act is a good way to remember how God shines the light in our hearts so we can then shine it out to the world (Matthew 5:14-16).
Just because Hanukkah has been labeled as Jewish, God’s people, including us Christians can still honor God in our remembrance of a significant time in history and focus on God’s continual work in our hearts.
God Bless and Happy Hanukkah!