Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who performed miracles for our spiritual fathers in those days at this season.
As we light the fifth candle we remember that Messiah Jesus---Yeshua--- is the greatest light of all:
(John 1: 4-5)
As Jesus was in the Temple in Jerusalem watching the illuminating (Hanukkah) lights, He declared:
I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." (John 8: 12)
Aged Simeon was promised by the Lord that he would not die until he saw Israel's Messiah. When Simeon finally saw Jesus as an infant in the Temple, he knew this One was the light of Israel and all the nations of the world.
Simeon then declared:
"My eyes have seen Your Salvation, (in Hebrew: YESHUA, in English: JESUS) which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a LIGHT of revelation to the gentiles, and the GLORY of Your people Israel." (Luke 2:30-32)
"For it is God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." (II Corinthians 4:6)
Last night Bernie and I went for a walk around our neighborhood after we burned our Hanukkah candles in our window.
It was a warm evening, and we felt we needed to just take a bit of a stretch after our long day.
Our neighborhood is quite festive right now.
There are Christmas lights everywhere!
On our walk we saw the following things in lights:
Micky and Minnie Mouse
Dogs (Snoopy, a Dalmatian and Goofy specifically)
Choo choo trains
....and yes, several manger scenes, one of which had a unique breed of tiny camel present in the manger.
The camel was smaller than the baby Jesus.
I wondered if the small breed of camel would still be likely to spit.
Bernie and I imagined walking through our neighborhood with a child, perhaps a grandchild, or an adult from another culture; walking and admiring the pretty lights together.
Bernie and I marvelled at how much work, time and money went into creating these displays. We thought about the people, mostly factory workers in China, that created them for the American market.
The soft glow of our Hanukkah candles certainly were no match for these bright and showy exhibitions of....what?
What story were they telling?
Or perhaps what story did they drown out?
What message did they send?
What about them could possibly cause me to remember my Savior, and The Light of the World.
Did they speak of the Miracles of God?
Did they in any way build up a holy faith in God to deliver His Salvation to rescue us from evil, from the ruthless, from those who would seek my destruction because of my faith?
Today I thought about what it means to Bernie and me to light Hanukkah candles each night.
What it meant to us as a family to light candles each night for eight nights (and yes...we didn't always manage to light candles each night as life got busy...) while the children were growing.
One thing was certain though: It never took much work, time or money to light our simple candles. No fret, no fuss. We even took the tiniest of our three Hanankiahs with us when we traveled.
We lit Advent candles on Sunday night as well for awhile, but I gave up on that after noting that we "shared" in Advent candle lighting each Sunday morning; repeating it at home that evening seemed rather redundant to me.
Advent was/is a 24 day long thought/meditation about the coming of the Christ child.
Hanukkah was/is an eight day half hour break of simplicity and joy to meditate on God's provision from Creation to the New Creation, from the First Day until the Eighth Day, and how the Light of Salvation was there, is there, in all of it.
(By the way: I do think Christmas lights are pretty and fun. And we are looking forward to seeing this amazing Christmas light show again when we head up to Jeff's for Christmas. Newspapers and news shows the world over have covered it heavily.We think it is an electronic wonder. I just wonder how it can possibly be said to relate to the birth of Jesus? Since it calls itself "Christmas"?)