Yeshua is the “Light of the World” and this year, with Chanukah and Christmas on the same day, His Love can shine even brighter in our family gatherings. I remember how sweet it was celebrating Chanukah the first time after I married Mark. We made potato pancakes and applesauce with his family and we made Christmas cookies with mine. It was just double the fun, right?
At first, eight days of presents and no tree to put up seemed like a fair trade- off. Then, I came to understand that Yeshua IS the lampstand inside us, instead of just Baby Jesus born in a manger scene. Beyond that, since we were intermarried and we could celebrate on different days, without dividing our family time, celebrating them separately actually seemed like a blessing at the time.
A 2,000 Year Divide
But what took years to come to grips with is that less than 300 years of human history actually separated the two events – Chanukah and Christmas! And, most important of all, this wasn’t an “end of year family party,” it was truly “the reason for the season.” The 2000 year divide between Judaism and Christianity finds it’s crescendo every year at this time and YOU have to choose how your family either rejects it or embraces it.
I can tell you, that after years of tossing away my catholic roots of Christmas in favor of celebrating only Chanukah, I did a disservice to my children. In my zeal to follow the God of Israel, and His Messiah – Yeshua of Nazareth – I rejected the “pagan” traditions of Christmas and really hurt my mother in the process. Looking back, I basically just switched out my red and green decorations for blue and silver ones. And, in my effort to be a conscientious objector, I ‘shared’ my opinion with everyone who asked me. Frankly, it was insufferably awkward.
I know I thought I was doing right by my own growing family, but knowing what I know NOW, I would do it this way…
Relationships Matter More
I would enjoy every family tradition that DOESN’T personally offend the Holy Spirit. I would have a great attitude. I would be thankful for every single effort anyone made to remember God and Yeshua, including decorating a tree – as long as it brings family together in SHALOM. I would taste and rejoice over every recipe someone else created to bless me. I would laugh at every family story that is NOT at someone else’s expense. I would take dozens of pictures of all the people around, even if relationships seemed strained in the moment. I would hug everyone at least one extra time before we left.
Holidays mark time. Every year has its own challenges and rewards. And, God loves to show how He is the same year after year, even as people come and go from our lives each year.
Please take a moment to invite HIM to the celebration, even if it’s just by praying in the car before you walk into your next relatives’ home. And, DO NOT use the holiday as a time to push your agenda, start another family feud or purposely shun someone who loves you. Life is too, too short for regrets and neglect.
Holidays make you think about family because strangers – even fun ones – don’t compare to the love of the people God chose to connect your life to. You didn’t choose your parents, God did. God also chooses how much time you get to enjoy them. There is no family relationship that God can’t restore as long as the breath of life exists and forgiveness is genuine.
Any family tree can be healed by God when you remember how much He loves you. Believe He loves you. Believe He loves your family through your witness. Be winsome and maybe you’ll “win some” back to Him, too.