For “Scripture Sunday:
Jewish festival of Hanukkah
“Traditional festivals of light miss the truth about the true “Light of the world”, both of them really miss the key scriptural teaching about light which is that of Jesus Christ.
[Darris McNeely] “The weeklong Jewish festival of Hanukkah has started. This is a very interesting festival - every year usually in December among the Jewish people. Hanukkah goes back - the story of Hanukkah goes back - to the 2nd century, the Jewish story, when the people in Judea threw off the Seleucid yoke and had the opportunity to go back into the temple and there they we were going to reinstate all of their traditions and all of their ceremonies. They only found enough oil for one day of lighting the lamps in the temple but a miracle was supposedly performed and there was enough oil for eight days. And, so the tradition and the celebration began around this has come down to the people today of Hanukkah being a season of lights. You have this menorah - which is an eight candled, eight branched menorah - used specifically for the Hanukkah season that relates to that whole festival of lights - which is an interesting period of time because we are also into the Christmas season.
[Steve Myers] Right, a lot of people feel that Hanukkah is the Jewish version of Christmas and they’re really not connected in any way. Except there is an interesting connection and it has to do with the lights themselves. At Christmas time so many people put up lights all around their house. They set up their Christmas tree. They put lights on the Christmas tree as well. And of course, at Hanukkah we got the candles that are on the menorah and they light those candles each day. In fact, some people have an advent candle that they light - for maybe many days before Christmas leading up to it. And so there is this connection of light but is it the kind of light that we should have?
[Darris McNeely] And here in the darkest season of the year - in December. You have the Christmas celebration which is based upon an ancient period of the Saturnalia festivals in Rome. You have the Jewish tradition of Hanukkah and its lights. But both of them really miss the key scriptural teaching about light which is that of Jesus Christ. In John chapter 3 and in verse 19 it says, “…the Light has come into the world and men love darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). Jesus Christ is the true light of the world. And, still today people are not able to come to understand exactly what that light and the truth of Christ’s teaching does mean. We love evil too much and we wrap the teaching about Jesus Christ around ideas, traditions and fables. Neither one of which really teach about Jesus.
[Steve Myers] That’s right. Christ is left out. Commonly we hear that phrase “put Christ back in Christmas” - well He was never there. So, Christ is left out of Christmas and He is left out of Hanukkah as well. And so the challenge is much like Ephesians 5:8 says. It says, “…you are the light in the Lord, walk as children in light.” And so we have that challenge to walk in spirit and truth, and worship God in a way that pleases Him - one of light, that shines the evidence of Christ in our lives so clearly.
[Darris McNeely] So, with all these human traditions around us at this time of year - Christmas, Hanukkah and whatever the custom might be. Again we challenge you to really understand who is the true light - Jesus Christ, the Light of the world. And find and worship Him in spirit and in truth.” From: https://www.ucg.org/beyond-today/beyond-today-daily/hanukkah-christmas-and-light
Why Some Christians Don’t Celebrate Christmas
Many feel that Christmas marks Christ’s birthday and that it honors Him. After all, can 2 billion professing Christians be wrong? At the same time, some few Christians don’t observe Christmas, believing that Jesus didn’t sanction it and that it dishonors Him. Who is right—and why?
What do the major symbols of Christmas— Santa Claus, decorated trees, mistletoe—have to do with the birth of the Savior of mankind?
One day, years ago, someone asked me why I celebrated Christmas. “The Bible says to,” I responded. “Somewhere in the Gospel of Luke, it speaks of the nativity scene. An angel told some shepherds that were keeping their sheep in the fields at night that the baby Jesus was born in Bethlehem. I think they went to see Jesus at that time.
“That was the first Christmas! And that’s why I celebrate Christmas, because the Bible supports Christmas, the birthday of Jesus Christ.”
“That’s not true, and here’s why,” my friend replied.
I soon learned that the Bible didn’t teach Christmas. I also found that its origins have nothing to do with the Bible. It was an important lesson about things I’d long assumed to be true.
Just because some 2 billion people observe Christmas—roughly 1 billion Catholics and another billion in Protestant faiths—does that make it right? Does it really matter one way or the other?
Why do so many people celebrate this holiday?
If you were asked, “Why do you celebrate Christmas?” how would you respond? Many would say Christmas honors the birthday of Jesus. Others feel that Christmas is a good Christian family get-together. Many do it simply because they’ve always done it.
Christmas can appear tantalizing to the eye and ear. People appear happy, generous, full of good cheer. Twinkling lights decorate many houses. Santa Claus and his reindeer are pictured as poised to lift off from snow-covered front yards or rooftops, although in the southern hemisphere and tropics there is no December snow. The colorful, peaceful-appearing Christmas scene can be intoxicating and addicting.
Shoppers pack stores, browsing for gifts they hope to buy at bargain-basement prices. Soaring strains of “White Christmas,” “Silent Night” or “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” resonate everywhere.
The December weather of the northern hemisphere might be frightful outside, but the feeling and warmth inside is delightful. Christmas trees with twinkling lights and bright, sparkling ornaments create a mystical and glowing environment. Entire families want to experience the special mystery that only comes with the Christmas season. There is no religious holiday quite like it for the vast numbers everywhere who celebrate it.
Was Jesus really born on Dec. 25?
But stop and ask yourself: Was Christ really born on Christ-mas Day? After all, the Bible nowhere tells us the day of His birth.
In fact, most credible secular historical writings tell us that Christmas, more than 200 years after Jesus’ death, was considered sinful: “As late as A.D. 245[the early Catholic theologian] Origen … repudiates as sinful the very idea of keeping the birthday of Christ” ( The Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th edition,1910, Vol. 6, p. 293, “Christmas”).
In A.D. 354, a Latin chronographer mentioned Christmas, but even then he did not write about it as an observed festival (ibid.).
There is no biblical evidence that Dec. 25 was Jesus’ birth date. In fact, the Bible record strongly shows that Jesus must not have been born then.
Keeping Family When You Don't Keep Christmas
What do you do when your relationship with God seems to collide with your relationship with your family?
Let’s be honest—saying no to Christmas feels like saying no to family, right? All of the intellectual knowledge about the true origins of Christmas doesn’t keep your heart from breaking when someone asks, “Don’t you want to be with your family?”
What do you do when your relationship with God seems to collide with your relationship with your family? Tell your family you’re giving up Christmas, and you’ll find out rather quickly.
Four years ago this Thanksgiving, I decided to stop keeping Christmas. I’d bought airline tickets months before to go home for the holidays, so I went. As best as I could, I tried not to acknowledge Christmas while still honoring everyone around me who was celebrating it. No one knew how to act, including me. It was awkward for all of us. When I was told that I didn’t have to come home for Christmas the following year, it was both a relief and a punch in the gut.
Why does it sometimes feel wrong to say no to Christmas, even though you know you should? For many people, Christmas traditions are wrapped up in family. It’s often the family’s largest and most-anticipated gathering. Let’s be honest—saying no to Christmas feels like saying no to family, right? All of the intellectual knowledge about the true origins of Christmas doesn’t keep your heart from breaking when someone asks, “Don’t you want to be with your family?”
Learn more about the Feast days, and you’ll see how very much family is on God’s mind.
I couldn’t put it into words at the time, but the root of my struggle was, “How do I maintain relationship with my family and be true to my beliefs?” It is possible, and it doesn’t involve Christmas.
There are two points to consider. One, family relationships are about more than just a single day. And two, God has a bigger plan for family than you may realize.
How do you build a relationship with your family outside of trees, tinsel, and presents? Some people join their extended family for lunch or dinner and leave before gifts and other Christmas traditions, and that works well for them. I live many hours away from my family, so dropping in for dinner is not really practical. Since long-distance visits are usually for a few days at a time, I don’t spend Christmas with my family. It’s more respectful to them, so that they can observe the practices they enjoy without awkwardness, and I’m not caught in the middle of practices that I don’t want to keep. Instead, I spend that time with my Church family, because, frankly, it can be very lonely to un-keep Christmas all by yourself.
Throughout the year, I make a point to spend time with my family at other opportunities that are meaningful to all of us: Thanksgiving, birthdays, a summer family gathering, and other special events such as graduations and weddings. I make an effort to see them more often than before so they don’t feel I’m pulling away from them. It’s Christmas I’ve rejected, not them. You can keep the commandment to honor your parents and not keep their desire for Christmas.
You should be able to answer why you are choosing not to keep Christmas. My answer is, “God has spelled out His holidays in the Bible and how to keep them, so now I keep those instead.”
God’s holidays, His holy festivals as described in Leviticus 23, illustrate the greatest story ever told—a story that features Jesus in the starring role. But His birth is only a small part of that story. Christmas misses most of the action and the dramatic conclusion. God has created special opportunities for you and your family to celebrate together throughout the year and remember the incredible story He is telling.
Learn more about the Feast days, and you’ll see how very much family is on God’s mind. God is all about family, and His days reveal more about the plan of salvation for all mankind than Christmas traditions ever could. Man’s holidays are a poor substitute for what God has in mind for you and your family: to be part of His family, together.
The first year is the hardest, but you’ll find a groove that works. You are not alone. While your journey is uniquely yours, there are many people who walk with you, all sorting out how to keep family without keeping Christmas.” From: https://www.ucg.org/beyond-today/blogs/keeping-family-when-you-dont-keep-christmas?source=textbox
Do you want to start observing God’s Feast days? Start by learning how Christians observe the biblical festivals? Read “A Guide to God’s Holy Days”.
Not much has been done this week. Somehow, I have managed to put my back out. I am pretty sure that this is what is making my knee hurt, too. I went through that in 1968, and found out my painful knee was caused by my back. That’s about the only time that I see anyone in the medical field, when I get my back manipulated.
First I had to get a referral. On Monday I called, but my doctor didn’t have any appointments until Friday, but said to call at 8.15 am each morning and they would see what they could do.
Nothing was available on Tuesday, but they could see me on Wednesday, the day I was to take Zack my neighbor to his doctor, so I couldn’t go. But Zack didn’t show up, even though I called out and banged on his house for ages, but no Zack. So I could have gone to the doctor’s office.
The following morning, Thursday, Zack shows up, wanting to work, said he had overslept the day before. Sorry, guy, my back is still hurting, so you are not going to work until it is fixed.
Later that same day, Jay wanted to work, so he came to help me move some things, he washed the van so it would look good for church, and fixed a broken ladder. Jay works less hours, so I don’t have to pay him as much as Zack.
Friday, Jay went to the doctor with me just to get out of the subdivision, and he always hopes that we will stop at a thrift shop. My PCP who is a DO, (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine)(https://www.mommd.com/whatisdo.shtml ) saw me and looked at my back. The referral for me to see the chiropractor that I had seen before, had just been approved, but she wanted me to see a different chiropractor this time. I called and they said “Come In’”, but when I got there I found that they didn’t take my insurance. By this time it was Friday afternoon, and you know all doctors are gone by then, so I still haven’t seen a doctor and my back and knee still hurt.
During the week, in spare moments, I had been cooking the different stages of a Shepherd’s Pie. The Angus ground beef was cooked, strained, cooled and any fat scooped off the gravy. The organic white potatoes were cooked, mashed with butter, cream cheese and scalded milk. (I just scald the milk in the pot with the potaoes before mashing). Some organic carrots, onions and celery had been cooked in bone broth. So it just had to be layered on Friday afternoon, when Jay and I were cooking for the church potluck. I took some of the gravy separately in a tiny crockpot. They liked my red quinoa banana pudding made with the left-over eggnog, and I sliced up 10 yellow squash and made Ricotta Squash.
Jay wanted to make a custard pudding from his mother’s recipe, but wanted to make it here. Being AHDD everything about Jimmy has to be a big palava, disruptive and he doesn’t think ahead. He was busy talking on the phone to his mother which he could have done later instead of tending to his cooking and cleaning up in the kitchen. He messed up a bunch of dishes, pots, pans and utensils, but the Sabbath started at dusk and I was worn out before we could get it cleaned up. He decided he wanted to spend the night on my couch as he doesn’t like to be alone in his mother’s house. He can’t stand to be alone at any time, and that is why he associates with people who he shouldn’t.
I slept very well, but when I got up and turned on the coffee, Jay said he hadn’t slept at all. Then I found out that after he had refused my decaf tea he had drank a lot of strong Earl Grey tea, and eaten a bunch of sugary things that evening. Common sense tells you that you can’t treat your body like that, and expect it not to revolt. The basics of living are things we learned in school in England.
Anyway, we both went to church, and Jay said that he might fall asleep, but he would go in to another room at church so as not to disrespect the pastor. I had to be there early as the pastor’s wife’s sister had just died and she had cried so much that it upset her immune system, and she didn’t want to go to church as she had all the symptoms of a cold.
The Bible readings were Gen. 37:1-40:23, Amos 2:6-3:8, and Mat. 1:1-6 and 16-25. The Teaching was about Hannukah, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanukkah) but I could only listen to it with one ear as I was busy in the kitchen, and the one who was helping me wouldn’t stop talking. Maybe I’ll do better when my back is fixed, as I sound an old grouch today!