11 December 2023 |
Dear Aunt Sevvy
Is it appropriate for Christians to display a menorah in their home, to light the candles as Jews do, and say a prayer? Perhaps some Adventists would frown on this, but our family finds meaning in this ritual.
Signed, Holiday Seeker
Hanukkah, as you no doubt know, commemorates the rededication of the second temple in the 2nd century BCE as described in the apocryphal book 1 Maccabees. (Scholars have recently learned, to their immense surprise, that Ellen White read and approved of the Apocrypha!)
The Talmud, a Jewish commentary, adds the story that at the dedication there was only enough holy oil left to burn the dedicatory lamp for one day, but it lasted for eight days! It’s sometimes called the “miracle of the lights,” and is commemorated by lighting a nine-branched candelabra called a menorah.
Aunty sees nothing wrong with appropriating rituals from this closely related religious culture into your own holiday celebrations, especially since Hanukkah has deep ties to Christianity.
Jesus was a Jew. His divine mission was predicted in the Hebrew scriptures. During his life he was closely associated with the second temple: according to the gospels he was dedicated there, affirmed his calling there as a child, and as an adult taught and did miracles in its vicinity. In some ways he respected the temple more than the Jewish leaders did. He also used the temple as an example of his own death and resurrection.
We needn’t question the veracity of the miracle of the lights because we know that God did miracles among the Jewish people. This particular miracle is a lesson about God’s faithfulness to his people in hard times. It is also a reminder that light triumphs over darkness, which was a frequent illustration in the gospel of John for Jesus’ ministry.
Your Christian family isn’t alone in celebrating Hanukkah: here is one of several websites that have ideas for a Christian Hanukkah.
Aunt Sevvy has collected her answers into a book! You can get it from Amazon by clicking here.
Write to Aunt Sevvy at DearAuntSevvy@gmail.com. Your real identity will never be revealed.