This week is a time of preparation in our household. We’re preparing for a week long celebration. Although I have yet to buy, bake, wrap, or decorate anything, our preparations are well underway. We’re preparing for חֲנֻכָּה (Hanukkah, Chanukah, Chanukkah, or Hanukah)
This minor Jewish holiday has been the butt of jokes (many by Jews themselves) for generations. Most people think of it as a consolation prize for those who don’t celebrate Christmas. But I’m going to let you in on a secret: This misspelled, misunderstood holiday has it all.
War elephants? Check. (Trust me, this part is important if you you have a house full of boys).
Far from being a consolation prize, celebrating Chanukkah has satisfied many longings we have as a family. We were looking for a biblical, non commercial way to celebrate what God has done in our lives and make some fun memories with our kids. This holiday helps us do both. And if you still aren’t sure that Hanukkah is “kosher” for Christians, the Bible documents the fact that Jesus celebrated it.
So aside from the candles and the dreidel that many people are somewhat familiar with, what are we celebrating anyway? As it turns out, a lot of things (more on that later). Hanukah is first and foremost the Feast of Dedication. Many people call it the festival of lights, but חֲנֻכָּה actually means dedication. We are celebrating the rededication of the temple after it was sacked, polluted, and used for pagan worship. When Jerusalem was recaptured by the Jewish resistance, they cleansed the temple and reinstated the worship of the one true God. This rededication is commemorated each year at Hanukah.
For us as believers in Jesus, This is a significant event. The temple in Jerusalem no longer stands. Instead, God chose to make his temple in people who set themselves apart for him. There are millions of temples worldwide, millions of hearts where God is worshiped night and day. But we’re flawed, and our hearts need cleansing. We need time to ponder and restate our purpose. I enjoy baking, decorating, and wrapping presents. But I could easily work myself into a tizzy over the trappings of the “perfect” holiday. We intentionally keep our celebration very low tech. That way, we have more time to focus on actually enjoying each other, and dedicating these temples we’ve been entrusted with.
Celebrating Chanukah is certainly not a biblical mandate, but I’m thankful for the opportunity to ponder my dedication to my king, and celebrate his cleansing work in my life.
What would it be like if each of saw ourselves as God’s temple here on earth? How can you make time to reflect and rededicate during this busy season?