‘Tis the season to celebrate Christ, our Lord and Savior, the Light of the world. In our family, we do this as we keep Hanukkah- the Feast of Dedication. This eight day celebration is exciting to us because we learn more each year about how the Old Testament conceals him and how the New Testament reveals him. We love learning how the tabernacle/temple and furnishings all point to Christ.
Celebrating Christ and Being Lights
Each year, we begin with the historical account of the Maccabees and the re-dedication of the Temple. This is important because if Antiochus wiped out the Jews, the promise and prophecies of Jesus wouldn’t have come to pass. Coupled with readings from the Bible in John 10:22-42, a foundation for our learning is in place.
Some of the accounts about the Jews during this time, in the Book of Maccabees, are so hard to read. What an example of their dedication to their belief in the promise and prophesies of the coming Messiah. Many suffered and died for what they believed. Many were injured or killed in the battle to be free from the rule of Antiochus and re-dedicate the temple to God.
Having young children still, we narrate the account to them. This is something you’ll have to consider and decide about for your own family. In the end, we think it’s important for our children to grasp why this event is important. They need to understand the significance and that it was God’s Providential hand to help preserve the tribe of Judah because that’s the line the prophesies declare Christ was to come through. We are thankful that God keeps His promises and for our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Seeing Christ in the Menorah
In the light of these passages, we always start with Christ being typified by the Menorah in the tabernacle. I like to highlight John 8:12 where Jesus says that he is the light of the world. He tells us that those who follow him will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. Do you know that the Menorah lit a windowless room? It’s an amazing picture of Christ’s light emanating darkness.
In addition, we read from Matthew 5:14-16 about how we are lights of the world. We go through how Christ and Christ alone changes hearts. When we have him, we grow in the fruits of the Spirit. When he fills us up with his love, we extend it to others. Also, we can choose self-government under him because we love him. He alone gives us the strength to do what is good because of his righteousness.
In an effort to help our younger children understand Revelation 1:12, we do a craft where we make a menorah. While they paint the middle tube, we talk about how this represents Christ. As we paint the other six tubes, we talk about how they represent the churches.
Seeing Christ in the Tabernacle Itself
This year, we’re also focusing on the tabernacle/temple itself. It, too, is a picture of Messiah. First of all, he explains this in his dialogue with the Jewish leaders in 2:13-21 about his body being the temple. To say nothing of when Jesus in John 4 told the woman at the well that worshiping the Father would happen in other places than on the mountain and Jerusalem. Jesus, being the temple, allows for all believers to worship the Father through him regardless of where they live.
Furthermore, we talk about 1 Corinthians 3:16, how we are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in our midst. We talk about the importance of taking care of our temples and that anything we do needs to reflect service to our Heavenly Father. This wraps back around to bearing fruits of the Spirit. Also, is has to do with how we’re to love and help others.
Engaging Hanukkah Literature
In order to engage our younger children more, I enjoy finding literature to read to them. This year, we happened upon the book titled Oscar. While this post-dates the Maccabees, it centers around a young Jewish boy who escapes the Holocaust. He travels to America and arrives on the 7th day of Hanukkah which is also Christmas Eve of the year 1938. He is to live with an aunt whom he has never met. Throughout the story, people show him kindness and he learns that people can do good toward others.
Not only do I love the story line, my artist eye delights in the illustrations on each and every page.
Seeing Christ and Being Lights
This is two-fold. We like to look for and acknowledge when we’re seeing Christ in someone else and how they shine brightly for him. We decided this year to give some gifts to some people in our lives that we identify these traits. Of course, there are many people to choose from but we can’t give to all. So, this year we focused on the moms and dads who are their teachers in their homeschool electives classes. So, our theme gifts were mainly light oriented… with some sugar cookies, too. You gotta have sugar cookies.
With this in mind, we share with our children about how showing Christ’s love to others and being encourages are a couple of ways that we are lights.
Jesus is the light of the world. He is the focal point of His Story- History. Whenever and however your family is celebrating Christ, love and blessings to you and yours!