On the evening of Dec. 4, Jewish people from around the world lit the first candle of their menorah to celebrate the miracle of light in the Temple in Jerusalem. Hanukkah, known as the Festival of Lights, remembers the triumph of an exceptionally weak Jewish militarily but with an incredibly strong spiritual foundation over the colossal forces of a ruthless enemy that had overrun Jerusalem. A loyalist named Judah Maccabee and his followers came face-to-face with their bullies to take back the Holy Land. For the next 2100 years or so, Jews have celebrated this victory of light over darkness and given thanks for the presence of a just and loving God. The Hanukkah narrative mentioned above is one that I learned many years ago. Moreover, I know there is much more to learn and appreciate about this special Jewish tradition.
Many Christians do not know that Hanukkah is mentioned in the New Testament (John 10:22-23), “And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch” (Hanukkah derives from a Hebrew word meaning, “to dedicate”). I argue that if Hanukkah was worth Jesus’ attention, it is worth mine and other Christians. As Jews celebrate the Festival of Lights, I pray the lights of Hanukah will illuminate you and your family so that you may experience joy, both materially and spiritually.