Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Hanukkah 2014

Hanukkah begins tonight!  It's a holiday that we always learned about and observed in our own way as a family while we were growing up (minus the gifts), and it always started with a special meal on the first night.

Now, why would a Mormon family want to learn about Hanukkah?  Beside the fact that this is what my Mom and Grandmother always did, here are a few reasons why I do now too:

1.  First and foremost, Hanukkah is about miracles--one miracle in particular.  Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that God is a God of miracles and that He is still working miracles in the world today.  When our family celebrates Hanukkah, we take time to verbalize and thank God for the miracles we've seen in our own lives.

2. Hanukkah is the story of God's people, whom He expected to serve Him only.  As members of God's church on earth, we too are expected to have no other God's before Him.  When ancient Israel fell under foreign rule, King Antiochus demanded that the Jews stop worshiping Yahweh and worship Greek gods instead.  A group of Jews, called Maccabees gathered others around them and stood up to King Antiochus.  They refused to worship false gods.  As members of God's church, we too are striving to remain true to the faith.

3.  Hanukkah is also the story of a people who worshiped in temples.  Mormons too worship in temples, and God has outlined how this is to be done.  After the Jews defeated their occupiers, the first thing they did was cleanse the temple of the Greek gods/symbols that had been installed there.  In order to dedicate the temple, it had to be cleansed and set right.  We too worship God in His set and prescribed way.  More than just in temple worship, but in our personal lives, we must make every effort to make sure we are serving the Lord in His way.

4.  Only after they did all that was required of them to cleanse the temple did the Lord show forth a miracle.  They had cleansed the temple and were required to consecrate the oil used in the temple, but only had enough oil for one day.  The Lord allowed the oil to last eight days in order to complete this proceaa.  One personal lesson that can be drawn from this is that when we repent and return to the Lord, we must do all in our power to set things right before Him.  Then He takes us the rest of the way through His grace and the power of His Atonement until we are whole again.  This is the most amazing miracle that can happen daily in our lives.  And just in case you didn't know, Latter-day Saints believe that Jesus Christ is the God of the Old Testament who was pre-mortally referred to by many names, one of them being Yahweh.  

Here's a little synopsis of how our dinner went this evening.  

I saw this recipe for a Hanukkah sandwich on NPR this morning, and it was a delicious as I thought it would be (although, I substituted the doughnut for a bagel--sorry!...I wasn't that adventurous.)  Note to my siblings who suffered through straight latkes growing up, this sandwich will surprise and delight you!  Even Honor loved it!

Next, I used the verbage on this website to help me tell the story of Hanukkah (which my children also learn about in school) in simple terms they could understand.

I added in my own perspectives and personal testimony as a Latter-day Saint and a follower of Christ as to why Hanukkah is important to me and why the Jewish people set a good example of faith for us.

Autumn lit the menorah.

Then we took turns talking about what a miracle is and each naming something that has happened in the last year in our lives that was a miracle.  

I am so grateful for all of my Jewish friends who celebrate Hanukkah and the various holidays/observances of their religion.  Seeing their faith helps my faith to grow as well.

Happy Hanukkah!!

To see what we did last year for Hanukkah, read this post. Or read my other post about why I like Hanukkah.