Christmas & Chanukah 2022
25 Dec 2022
While I was sitting down eating Christmas Eve dinner with my family, Holy Spirit began speaking to me about Christmas Past and how it was formative to my faith. I grew up in an agnostic family that celebrated the components of Christmas and although we knew what was being celebrated, we didn’t celebrate the birth of Jesus. We knew what it represented, yet the celebration of Christmas was similar to that of Thanksgiving—a gathering of family, eating together—with the exchanging of gifts. Even though it wasn’t a celebration of Jesus, childhood Christmases taught me what it felt like to:
- Anticipate something
- Trust and have faith that what I asked for would be received
- Be filled with joy and excitement receiving what I had asked for
- Work through feelings of unmet expectations
How were these elements formative to my faith? Because they all point to an important part of our relationship with God as Abba (Father) and Jehovah Jireh (God who Provides). In my relationship with God now, I have faith and I know what I ask for will be given to me because I had many years of my requests being fulfilled. I trust that He is a good Father who gives good gifts. I know what it’s like to wait in anticipation and excitement for what I’ve asked or for His promises to come to pass. Through a specific Christmas occurrence one year, I also learned to ask more specifically and how to appreciate things even when exact expectations were unmet.
This year, our family has been learning about our Christian roots in the Jewish faith and have been celebrating Chanukah. We prepared surprises for each day of Chanukah, from something we do together as a family like building a gingerbread house, talking about how Jesus was born in Bethlehem (House of Bread) and how we are His dwelling place, to gifting them with gelts to eat and gelts to give. We began the celebration this year by attending a menorah lighting, which happened to be right around the corner from where we live. We consumed sufagnot and latkes with apple sauce at the event and brought home a gifted menorah.
Each night, lighting a candle is such a beautiful reminder of how our God is a miracle worker, and as Jesus is the light, we are to be the light and share the gift of light with others. The Maccabees expected the light to only last one night, but the second night was the start of their miracle, which lasted 7 more days than expected! God is a God who exceeds our expectations for miracles! It’s been so heartwarming and powerful as we experience each evening with the increase of candles being lit, the menorah getting brighter and brighter and brighter. It’s been increasing my hope and joy for expecting God’s miracles in our lives.
Upon reflecting on what Holy Spirit has shown me, I have some ideas on family traditions I want to incorporate next year so that I can help my children connect with God.
- I want to decorate the house with lights to celebrate the Festival of Lights because God is a celebratory God!
- I want to teach my kids the feeling of excitement through preparation for the holiday season, intentional gift giving and tying it to how people were expecting the Messiah, how Jesus’ birth was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy and how we can prepare in anticipation for His second coming by being the light and sharing the gift of Light with others.
- I want them to make a list of gifts and to know for themselves how God is a good God by praying for the things they’ve asked for and trusting He will provide the gifts they’ve requested.
- I want to continue my family’s tradition of purchasing ornaments that speak about what we experienced God do that year individually and as a family, for us to take them out year after year and just like with stones of remembrance, talk about what miracles God did in our lives.
As I hold my baby and we celebrate Christmas Day and the 8th day of Chanukah, I am reflecting on the joy, miracle and light that came to this world to be our redeemer, hope, freedom and friend. How grateful I am to know Jesus.