Blessed Advent greetings to all, Merry Christmas! and Happy Chanukkah…
Yes, it is a busy time of year. But all this busyness, except maybe the shopping, is a great way to spend time considering the best gift of God we could possibly receive. And maybe even in shopping we can focus on gifts that bless as God has blessed us! Praise Him for His gift of salvation through our Messiah Jesus, who’s birth, life, death and resurrection give us the promise of everlasting life.
This month is an oddity in the calendar because the two calendars, the Hebrew and the Gregorian have actually synced. The new moon this month was on the 1st of December, which means that the 1st of Kislev and the 1st of December were the same day. The 1st of December then, was a minor festival , Rosh Chodesh, (literally the “Head of the Month”), the festival of the New Moon. This festival was introduced by God in Numbers 10:10, and you can see it’s observance throughout the Scriptures. Paul mentions this festival in Colossians 2:16.
Rosh Chodesh is not a significant festival of the Jewish calendar, often sufficient to simply mention it the previous Sabbath with the inclusion of some prayers for the occasion. But the significance of this new moon for us is that the 25th of Kislev and the 25th of December are the same day. The 25th of Kislev, of course, is Chanukkah, which goes from the eve of the 24th through January 1. Some in our circles are calling it Chrismukkah and Jew Year’s Eve! I am not that bold, but I am reflecting on the reality that as our family celebrates the twelve days of Christmas, including Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, The Feast of St. Stephen (the 26th), St. John the Evangelist (the 27th), and the feast of the Holy Innocents (the 28th), we will be lighting a candle on the Chanukkah menorah for most of those twelve days. While the feeble lights of the Chanukkiah may not contend well with the brilliance of Christmas, without the events of Chanukkah, none of Christmas would have been possible!
So this year, more than perhaps any other, we are remembering all the miracles of the Christmas season, including the miracle of God’s preservation of His people against enormous odds, so that from their cradle the Messiah would come. Some 200 years before Jesus stood in Solomon’s colonnade at Chanukkah to affirm that He is indeed the Messiah (John 10:22), a nation sought to destroy Israel. God would have none of it! That nation would survive and Mary would become with child. The rest, as they say, is His story.
Merry Christmas and a happy and safe New Year. And . . .Happy Chanukkah too.
If you are interested in Advent devotions, just type “Advent devotions” into the search bar above, and you will be taken to a list of Advent devotions beginning with Epiphany (so you have to scroll down). May I also suggest that we hear all the time about Luther’s “On the Jews and Their Lies,” but go to http://www.ccjr.us/dialogika-resources/primary-texts-from-the-history-of-the-relationship/272-luther-1523 for a different perspective on Luther (“That Jesus Christ Was Born a Jew”).