Sunday, January 22, 2012

Celebrating Hanukkah

Last night, some friends and I got together to celebrate Hanukkah. Yes, we know it isn't that time of year. Yes, we know it lasts eight days, not one night. And yes, we know we aren't Jewish. So why did we do it?

Well, we did a Passover Sader last year, and really loved learning from the tradition about the symbols from the Torah and how they point to Jesus. It was a fresh reminder to us of our faith and hope and salvation. We love how the Jewish holidays serve to help them remember God's faithfulness and his mighty acts throughout history. And we, as followers of Jesus, ought to take time to remember these things as well.

During the actual holiday time, we were all in different corners of the world, so we decided to do it once we were all together again, and planning to gather for eight days in a row became too complicated... hence the one night, several weeks too late. So, not really knowing anything at all about Hanukkah, and knowing that not every detail would be strictly orthodox, we decided to try it anyway and see what God would teach us in our attempt.  So Hannah and Brie did the research and preparations, and the rest of us showed up...

Brie made the kosher brisket and latkas that were the feast, with freshly cut fruit. We each had a paper Star of David, and on the back, Hannah wrote the Hebrew version of each of our names. Kevan read the history behind the celebration of Hanukkah during the meal. After dinner we said the blessings together, lit the candles of the menorah, and sang a song of praise. Later on, we played the dreydel game and had leftovers from the meal.

In this Hanukkah experience, I learned that it is a celebration of the miracles and wonders of God. The only purpose the candles are meant to serve is to remind us to give thanks to God for the great things he has done. It was beautiful to have the light catch my eye often throughout the evening, causing me to pause and say "thank You," over and over again.

It makes me want to look back through my life, and my family's history, to pinpoint and mark the calendar with momentous times like this. But even then, it is important for me to remember that God's faithfulness is as constant as the sun, his mercy is new every morning, his love endures forever. Every day is a chance to celebrate his goodness and power!

"Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who has kept us alive, and has preserved us, and enabled us to reach this time."

*Photos taken by Brie Elliott and Kelsey Crook!

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