I am rejoicing after our Chanukkah party early this month. We had 60 guests for the party, and about a third of them were Jewish. As always, we cooked latkes (traditional potato pancakes) and found out that my meter for determining Jewish ethnicity has been wrong all these years.
In my home, we never ate applesauce on our latkes…always sour cream. As I grew older, I discovered that Germans like their potato pancakes with applesauce, so I theorized that Jews like sour cream, Germans like applesauce. We always have both at our Chanukkah party, and I usually joke that the biggest difference between us besides Jesus is sour cream.
This year, a number of Jewish ladies that were at the party started taking the applesauce and I gasped as I served them. I said something like “You’re supposed to take the sour cream!” They told me that they’ve always liked their latkes with applesauce, so I said something silly like “You should try Jesus too, that you would find him even sweeter.” Of course they laughed, but I found that a very easy way to begin a conversation with them about Jesus.
We had three such parties on our calendar over Chanukkah, one in Boca Raton, FL, one in Atlanta, GA, and of course, ours here in St. Louis. What a blessing to have so many opportunities to share the Gospel with Jewish people. Our Michigan branch held a Chanukkah craft fair instead, and had some very creative ways to share Jesus in Chanukkah with Jewish people.
I am often challenged by well-meaning Christians or Messianic Jews who are disappointed in me because I celebrate Christmas or use the word “Easter” rather than “Resurrection Day.” They tell me that these holidays have their roots in pagan festivals and we in the church have no business having such symbols in our homes or congregations. I usually respond with St. Paul, who wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:20-22, “To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win the Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. … To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” In the spirit of St. Paul, if we can use sour cream and applesauce to teach about Jesus, we can use Advent wreaths, Christmas trees and Dec. 25. May you find creative ways this season to share your faith in Christ. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!