Chanukkah–Feast of Dedication

The Russian VillageIllustration:  “Russian Village,” by Marc Chagall, oil on canvas, 1929.

“Be kind, compassionate, and forgiving to each other, in the same way God forgave you in Christ. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 4:32–5:2).

While traditions can be good, there are some traditions in our cart that can be a distraction to the journey that we are taking.  It is a shame that Christmas has become a time when Santa Claus seems much more prominent than Jesus in our culture.

While I appreciate the mythos of Santa Claus as an imitation of St. Nicholas, (whose feast day is December 6), when we forget that St. Nicholas gave secret gifts to show forth the love of Christ and the grace of God, it can turn Santa Claus into a simple instrument of commercialism or discipline (“he knows when you’ve been bad or good!?”).

Jewish families have traditions at Chanukkah that imitate Santa Claus.  The pressure of our Christian friends, who have Christmas trees, Santa Claus and gifts have grown traditions for some Jewish homes that include gift giving for eight days, a Chanukkah bush (a silver foil tree with blue balls on it), and Hanukkah Harry, the little man who brings the gifts.

Our Christmas traditions are wonderful, even those of Christmas trees, Santa Claus and the giving of gifts, if they testify to the glory of God, the gift of the Messiah and the promise of eternal life.  Chanukkah traditions are just as wonderful, if they point to these same things. Unless we celebrate these things, others will simply imitate the traditions, with no opportunity to imitate God.

Prayer:  Abba, Father, thank You for traditions that help me teach Your truth, and bless us with joy.  May I never get distracted from the promise of salvation that You have given in Messiah, Y’shua.  In His name,  Amen.

Ponder the path:  The Lenten and Easter season have traditions that can also distract.  Look closely at the things you do, and explore how you can share the Gospel through those things and then tell the Story.


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