It has been oddly mild for late December and I can't help but be glad for the not-so-wintery weather. Last year we were in the midst of the biggest ice storm to hit Southern Ontario in years. This year we've been playing with hens in the grassy backyard! So much was different this year (not just the weather!). Our home, our hearts, our new found celebration of Hanukkah - very new and very special. I had to share from my heart...
Our embracing Hanukkah this year came after much prayer, reflection, and yes, good old fashioned research. Last year, the day after Christmas, our hearts were incredibly burdened. My husband and I sat on the couch praying about what was gripping our hearts so tightly. It was Christmas. We just didn't feel right about Christmas. Or Easter. Or Halloween. Or Valentine's Day. But we had always gone along with what we'd always done. After all, that was the norm. But we knew the Lord was prompting us to take a closer look at these 'traditions of man'.
We felt so torn up inside that we promptly started taking down our decorations and tree at midnight that night after watching a documentary on the roots of Christmas.
So, this year, we knew things had to be different. There was no tree, no Christmas decorations, no Christmas at all in our home, actually. Instead, we celebrated Hanukkah and spent the eight days of the festival reading about Christ Jesus as our Light. After all, Hanukkah is also known as the Festival of Lights! Much in the bible points to Christ being conceived during this feast as well! Imagine, the Light of the World conceived during the Festival of Lights!
The morning of the last day of Hanukkah the fog hung heavy all around our neighbourhood. All that warm air blowing in, I suppose. We took our weekly drive through the nearby country side to a free flowing spring where we fill our water jugs. We could barely see trees across a harvested corn field and the twisting road seemed to lead to nowhere at all, for the fog. I'd never seen fog so thick.
A street light was glowing far ahead as we rounded a sharp turn. I spotted it long before anything else on the road, yellow lamplight and rings of haze all around as we approached through drizzle and low cloud. A light was there - and we saw it, even though we saw nothing else.
I am the Light of the world. Those who follow me will not walk in darkness but will have the Light of Life.
This was our memory work for the week and my prayer is that this truth to be planted deep in the souls of our children. I pray it would nestle down and grow strong roots in my own heart as well. Because I'm a girl in need of daily Light. Just like the light of the sun brings breath to the flower, the Light of God brings the fleshy spiritual beat to our hearts.
And in all of life, doesn't every soul seek light? Even when we don't know what we're looking for, all along we reach for it. When wandering in the desolate dark, we squint for a small spark, a tiny glimmer - and then we run wildly toward it. There's something about that light - about being able to see, that makes all the difference.
Every night, as we lit the Menorah, that ancient light in the darkness, all eyes around the table were fixed on the flickering flames. The center candle is the lighting candle and it represents Jesus (Y'eshua in Hebrew). When this candle lights the rest, we are reminded how Y'eshua brings the very light of life to us as well. And yes, to any person, big or small, who calls on His name. And we whisper to each other that we are also to be a light and spread His light in this world. Yes, there's a whole lot of lighting going on, and it's a beautiful display of Christ's grace and love.
See, what moves me so profoundly about these feasts is the complete focus on our Lord. There is nothing to distract. No presents to worry about, no shopping to run around doing, just time with family, meals together, God's word, and simple life. Everything is done to focus our thoughts and hearts on Him. We humble ourselves and say, "Lord... show us how to honor You", and He does!
Before we started the week of celebrating, I didn't have a plan together of what to do with the children. The start of Hanukkah (Dec.16th this year) snuck up on me. So, as I contemplated what to do to make this celebration special and meaningful, I prayed. I prayed the Lord would show me what to do and how to do it. And within a few hours, I had all my thoughts and plans together. It was so special to feel like the Father was leading us in this way.
If you have never embraced the biblical feasts before, I would encourage you to pray and seek the Lord's face on this topic, it is so rich and so beautiful! (And we're just getting warmed up!)
Be blessed today, tomorrow, and forevermore, friends!
A peak at how we embraced Hanukkah this year:
We used a Menorah that had 7 candles. The traditional Hanukkah Menorah has 9. We chose this one because we wanted to use the biblical Menorah found in the Old Testament.
Daily Themes hang throughout the festival to remind us of the truths we are learning and taking time to reflecting upon.
Once we read our daily scriptures, we wrote them out and posted them on the kitchen wall.
Making and painting a Star of David banner.
Art Lesson - still life, painting a Menorah using Acrylic Paints.
Audrey's Menorah - love it!
Hanukkah Lapbooks/Memory Books:
Practicing the name of Jesus (Yeshua) in Hebrew.
Ha! Love this interpretation by Simon...
Adapting for Alex (age 6). He traced copywork on each page and drew a picture to reflect what he wrote.
I encourage you to read through Ephesians 5!!! Such a gift and reminder of how we are to live every day...