The Feast of Dedication

Chanukah: Season of Miracles

.. Nobody likes winter – it’s cold, dark and dreary. Even if you enjoy skiing, snowmobiling, skating and other winter activities, you really don’t enjoy the dreariness of the season. You need something to brighten it up a bit! Everybody does… The

.. Druids had their solstice and they worshipped trees. Apples were tied to branches and Odin, one of their gods, was thanked for `blessing them with fruitfulness’. They also adorned the boughs with lighted candles in honor of the sun god. The

.. Nordics had Yule Logs to light (Swedes still say “God Jul!” instead of `Merry Christmas’) Cold and hunger in the northland caused them to make ritual fires to quell the 24 hour a day darkness. They were afraid the sun might never come back. When the days began to lengthen once again a great mid-winter celebration was made. The

.. Romans had their Saturnalia, the Feast of December 25th, to honor their god – Saturn. All work was suspended, slaves given temporary freedom to do as they pleased, gifts were exchanged and a Mardi Gras madness took over the streets. The holiday was complete with decorated evergreens, fertility rites (using mistletoe), ivy which brought `good luck’ and holly, which was to protect from `the evil eye’. (Encyclopaedia Britanica) Does any of this stuff sound familiar? What does it have to do with Y’shua/Jesus?

.. ‘The Church’, in A.D. 375, all of a sudden announced they had `discovered’ Christ’s date of birth – December 25th! (How convenient) and Christians began to celebrate Christ’s birth in the 4th Century. The Bible does not give the specific date (although one can find a date through Zacharias, the priest, if you search for it) of His birth nor does it make any mention of celebrating it. We were told instead to celebrate His death and resurrection. Many scholars agree He was born in the Fall.

Was there ever a real Christmas? Yes, almost! There was a Christ Mass. “A Mass is the Catholic celebration of Holy Eucharist or Communion.” The Roman Church attempted to incorporate these earlier pagan practices into the Mass for Christ. (If you can’t beat ‘em – join ‘em?) The Church probably intended for its influence to rub off on the pagans but the Church became paganized instead. All past rituals took on `Christian’ meanings and life went on as usual … Now some of us are beginning to wonder why Christmas, as the word has shortened to, has to fight for space with jack o’lanterns for the Witch’s Holiday in October. ?? —- is it really all just glitz after all? Has it come to most of our world as a `mad-rush-mid-winter’ celebration? If it were truly a `Christian’ holiday, the ACLU would have done away with it completely long ago. Some retailers make over 40% + of their yearly profits in December. Where is Y’shua (Jesus)? How does He feel about compromise?

The Jews dug up and revitalized Chanukah (not to be outdone by the Christians?) even to deciding they should give gifts after lighting the candles. We all know the story of Chanukah. You might say Alexander, the Great, (who was educated by Aristotle) started it about 200 years before the Maccabees.. He conquered the known world and through that act the Pig Man, Antiochus IV, came to power and tried to destroy the Jews and their G-d by assimilation. The Temple was left in ruins. The miracle oil story was never mentioned in either Book of Maccabees; (part of the Apocrypha) only in the Talmud seven centuries later. It’s a great story which may or may not be true.

The Temple WAS rededicated and that’s a miracle I can relate to. We all need to rededicate ourselves, the Temple where G-d now dwells. The blessings that we say here are great – especially the Shehechianu, which all of us should have constantly in mind.

Nehemiah 8:1-12, one of my most favorite stories, tells about finding the Torah (G-d’s Word) that had been lost for such a long time. The people were so moved. Emotions ran high and there was great rejoicing. I believe we are finding and returning at last to some original beliefs. It is time to rejoice!

The people of the New Testament had this Holy Day. John 10:22 speaks of it as the Celebration of Dedication. If it was good enough for Y’shua – it’s good enough for me!

We owe a great debt of gratitude to the Pioneers of the Faith. We need to learn about these people and remember them. (We will be talking to them in Heaven and I don’t want to embarrass myself with my ignorance!) Let’s not forget those in our own time who have paved the way for us. Ruth Specter Lascelle was probably the first in our area to bring our roots to light. Her grandfather was a Jerusalem Rabbi and she found her Messiah many years ago and became a minister with the Assemblies of G-d, taught at the Seattle Bible Training School for years, spoke in many churches all over the country and is even now (in her 80′s) working on her 16th book.

Polly, a Jewess and Dick (Dr. Richard) Perkins, found salvation at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Ballard in the early 70′s and rather than “Gentilizing” the faith she soon began to find ways to serve the Lord that continued her Jewishness. They started services in their home for Jews that still wanted to be Jewish before any Messianic Congregations were even thought of here. Joe Good, a Southern Baptist boy, who wanted to reach his Jewish brother-in-law, has been such a blessing to those of us who are searching for `the Truth’ that has been lost. The Holy Spirit has led him to early church practices forgotten for almost two millennia. He taught on TBN for a time and has reached many with his books, tapes and lectures. We honor these people and many others, as well as the God who changed their lives in such a way as to bless us. Chanukah can remind us of these things, too, and remind us how blessed we are to live in a land where we are still free and can freely and safely share His Word. I think we must remember and be thankful for the great sacrifices made by those who have gone before us. Many have given their lives, that we might have His Word, giving us the opportunity to know Him. I also think we should realize we must be ready if we are called upon to make such a sacrifice.

So I say, “Celebrate! – it’s a Miracle!
Salvation is a Miracle! Life is a Miracle!
.

“Celebrate! – Chanukah if you will, Christmas if you must –
but celebrate the Holy One of Israel, God, our Father and the gift of eternal Life that we have so graciously been given and at such a price! But most of all make sure you celebrate the Holy One of Israel and His Son who is enough to light our dreary lives any time of the year!

Shalom! Happy Chanukah!

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