Being raised in a conventional Christian home, Christmas used to be a pretty huge deal in our household. Come December and the air around was pervaded with festivities. Christmas meant so many things for me- cleaning and decorating our home, helping mom in preparation of sweets and goodies, shopping for that perfect Christmas dress, house-keeping a house swarmed with guests for almost over a week, frequenting church for carol practice, and so on. While all of this sounds like lots of fun, there was something that had always been missing and that something is something which I have always been after in my life- MEANING.
So for many years I was stuck in the rut of performing a religious activity of celebrating Christmas. For a very long time, I had been meaninglessly observing festivals just for the outward frivolity of it. Even as a kid the question often use to surface in my heart- “Was Jesus even born on what the world celebrates as Christmas day? If yes, where does it say so in the Bible?” I carried these questions in my heart for years. But the very fear of asking questions and the fear of sticking out like a sore thumb, kept me from doing anything about it. Now, however, its time for a change.
As believers, it’s time to celebrate festivals which the Bible talks about. It’s time to observe the Lord’s feasts which are dress-rehearsals for the great day. And now it’s time for Chanukkah (also spelt Hanukkah)! (John 10:22-23- “Then came Hanukkah in Yerushalayim. It was winter, and Yeshua was walking around inside the Temple area, in Shlomo’s Colonnade.”) Also known as the Feast of Dedication, it is a festival of lighting candles, spending time with family, sharing gifts and enjoying fried foods! I don’t want to make this a blog about the history and the facts about Channukah. There are a plenty of resources online to read up on that. I am here only to share with you how I celebrated Channukah and what it’s celebration speaks to me.
Chanukkah is all about the lights. Traditionally, the candles are lighted on a Chanukkiah, one candle a day for eight days of the week along with specific blessings and other related intricacies. Some of the nitty-gritty of candle-lighting in Judaism truly enchants me. There are so many deep nuances to each and every bit of convention. No wonder Judaism is more a way of life than a religion. The candles are to be placed such that they are either close to a window or door, so that they are visible to the passers-by. This practice holds so much meaning for me. One could have a lot of zeal, fervor, love, care, compassion, like an illuminated flame of a candle, in their heart but unless it’s made available to the people around them, what is it’s use really? Like it says in Luke 11:33- “No one who has kindled a lamp hides it or places it under a bowl; rather, he puts it on a stand, so that those coming in may see its light.”
Another take-away from these burning beauties is the fact that no matter where they are placed, no matter what is around them; all they know is to shine! They can’t help but radiate their light, that is the nature of a candle- spreading light is it’s destiny and it will do it regardless of it’s surroundings. This thought speaks very personally to me. I have been in situations where things around me had started to seem very bleak and I did not have a good fellowship, people around me did not seem supportive and I lacked the sense of community in my life. But Yeshua very clearly states in Matthew 15:14 – “You are light for the world.” And nothing needs “light” more than darkness itself.
Also, a fascinating revelation that came to me was that a candle which is not burning, is just a lump of wax! It is no good! There has to be some burning. some flickering, some effort, some pain to be borne by the candle. Otherwise, you might end up with a lot of potential in you and without the burning process- all’s a waste! There’s always a price to pay. For everything. Always. Especially if you desire to be the light.
You see, MEANING… so much of it…. in every little thing!
Along with these wonderful gems of wisdom, Chanukkah brings with it a cascade of scrumptious food! This time around on the eve of Chanukkah, this is what our dinner table looked like! –
Wish you all a very happy, joyous, peaceful, fun and light-filled Chanukkah!! 🙂
Image Source (Chanukkiah) : http://www.auction.catawiki