There’s a faint buzz of excitement in our household. I have yet to buy, bake, wrap, or decorate anything, but our preparations are well underway for eight nights of celebration. We’re preparing for חֲנֻכָּה (Hanukkah, Chanukah, Chanukkah, or Hanukah)
Most people think of it as a consolation prize for people who don’t celebrate Christmas. But can I let you in on a secret?
This misspelled, misunderstood holiday has it all.
War elephants? Check. (Trust me, this part is important if you have boys in your life).
Chanukkah is so far from a consolation prize. We were looking for a non-commercial way to celebrate what God has done in our lives and make fun memories with our kids. This holiday satisfies both those longings. And if you’re wondering whether Hanukkah is “kosher” for Christians, the Bible records the fact that Yeshua celebrated it.
Aside from the candles and the dreidel that everyone is vaguely familiar with, what are we celebrating anyway? Many people call it the festival of lights, but the Hebrew word “Hanukah” actually means dedication.
We’re celebrating the re-dedication of the temple after it was sacked, polluted, and used for pagan worship during a bloody foreign occupation. After resistance fighters routed the invading army (and their war elephants) and recaptured Jerusalem, they had to cleanse the temple before resuming worship of the one true God. This re-dedication is commemorated each year at Hanukah.
For believers in Yeshua, this is huge. The temple in Jerusalem no longer stands. For now, God makes His temple in the people who set themselves apart for Him. There are millions of temples worldwide, millions of hearts where God is worshiped night and day.
We’ve been reclaimed for the worship of the only One who is worthy. But what about our cleansing? Even after the physical temple was no longer in enemy hands, it still needed to be hosed down and swept out before true and pleasing worship could resume there. Chanukah is the perfect time to celebrate our redemption, and ask God to search our hearts.
What have I been tolerating in my temple that has no business being there?
Who am I dedicated to, and what am I dedicated for?
I love baking, decorating, and wrapping presents. But I could easily get caught up in the trappings of the “perfect” holiday, and miss the whole point. When I got honest with myself, I realized most of the stuff we did “for the kids” was more for me than them anyway. So we keep our celebration very low key. That way, we have more time to focus on enjoying each other, and rededicating these temples we’ve been entrusted with.
I’d hate to portray Hanukah as another box you’re obligated to check during this hectic season. For me it feels more like a deep, grateful sigh with crispy-sweet edges. A song in the dark. Candle-lit laughter.
What if we grasped the truth…and saw ourselves as God’s temple here on earth? How can you make time to reflect and re-dedicate during this busy season?