I'm blessed to celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas. I celebrate Christmas very differently than most, and very differently from the way I did it in years past. I read a quote this week that sums up my outlook on Christmas celebrations.
"Whenever Christmas begins to burden, it’s a sign that I’ve taken on something
of the world and not of Christ."
Years ago, I read a book, Unplug the Christmas Machine, that had a profound impact on me. I was a young mother at the time, and completely worn out by "Christmas". I ran myself ragged shopping, decorating, entertaining, being entertained...and you know the rest of the story. After reading the book, I decided to do Christmas differently, and it has evolved over time. Slowly, I began to do gifts differently. I shopped, spent, and decorated less, and began to worship more.
Who is Christmas about, after all? Isn't it about Yeshua? Weren't the first gifts brought to Him? I can remember, as a small girl, feeling like something was missing at Christmas. Yes, I knew and read the story of His birth...but what was I giving Him? My little girl heart knew He was being ignored... in spite of all the decorations, presents, parties, and hoopla. Even as a small girl, I sensed He was grieved.
Somewhere along the line, in my desire to love Him and honor Him, I read about the pagan basis for Christmas. I learned that Yeshua was most likely not born in the winter because the shepherds were tending their flocks in the hills. I learned that the Bible says not to put a tree in your house and decorate it (Jer.10:1-5). And don't even get me started on Santa Claus. I had to ask myself if God is pleased by telling children that lie. I have a grandson now, and I much prefer that he learn about God's appointed feasts and festivals than the world's. I'm thankful that his parents feel the same.
Yeshua celebrated those feasts, including Hanukkah. He also said, "I have not come to do away with the Law, but to fulfill it." I don't think He meant to stop celebrating His feasts, but to realize in celebrating them that He is the fulfillment of them. They are all tactile, hands-on lessons that teach us about His character and about our relationship to Him. Yeshua is, after all, the God of the Old Testament, and He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. If he said we would observe His feasts forever, shouldn't we be doing that and follow His example?
For that reason, I celebrate Hanukkah - with Yeshua as the Light of the World. I observe Christmas as the fact that He was born as a man. I worship Him - not the Christmas tree, or the presents, or the whole machine that Christmas has become. I'm much happier doing it that way.
For me, Christmas is a time of peace and of drawing close to Him. I thank Him that He was willing to become a man and to suffer as we do in this earth, to understand our frailty. I thank Him that He didn't give in to sin so that He could be that perfect offering for sin. I thank Him for His light that has shined into my heart and taken root there. I thank Him for the blessing of being in His family and for the gift of His Word to guide my life. I thank Him for the Ruach Hakodesh living inside me. I am so glad He came.
What's funny about being a Messianic Jewish believer is that sometimes Hanukkah comes before Christmas, and then sometimes it's just the opposite. So, mostly, we celebrate all month long - that Yeshua was born and that He was the Light of the World. We put up blue and white lights and listen to Hanukkah music as well as songs of Christmas that celebrate our Savior's birth. We make special foods and fellowship with friends. Yes, I do give gifts, but they are quite minimal. No more pushing myself to keep up with the Christmas machine. I play music, and go to free concerts that focus on Yeshua. I ride around and look at the lights and worship my Savior. My heart is so full of gratitude and worship.
This video is so wonderful. I hope you'll watch it, and stand up with me and praise and worship Yeshua - the King of Kings and L-rd of Lords. Halelu-jah! (a great Hebrew word that means Praise God!).To learn more about Hanukkah, please enjoy: Yeshua is the Light