Hanukkah begins at sundown December 22nd and is celebrated until nightfall December 30th, this year.
It is a celebration of family, freedom and light. Hanukkah means “dedication.” Historically, the origin of Hanukkah began in the year 168 BCE when Antiochus Epiphanes IV attempted to squash Judaism. The Maccabean Revolt ensued in which the Jewish rebel Judas Maccabeus defeated Antiochus Epiphanes IV. The Jews rededicated the Temple after the Greek occupation of that holy place. A small quantity of oil miraculously kept the Temple menorah lit for eight days.
Hanukkah is primarily celebrated on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev (late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar). It is entirely coincidental that it falls near Christmas.
For Hanukkah, families gather to light the menorah, pray and sing hymns, exchange gifts, and enjoy latkes and jam-filled donuts, just to name a few activities.
Tomorrow night, on the river front in my town a menorah will be lit a few feet from the Christmas tree. As a community, we will all gather to offer our prayers for peace. In this late December, it will promise to be a cold, dark winter night; however, the lights from the menorah will shine forth and unite with the glow from the Christmas tree lights just a few feet from it. As God’s people, we will join our voices together to ask for peace, to ask for justice, and to ask God to protect us as we turn our faces toward the future.
This can be a cold, dark world, filled with cruelty and hatred. It can also be a beautiful world filled with light. It is up to us all to be that light, to shine bright like the candles in the darkness.
May our hearts be filled with the light of God’s love.
“I want to sing like the birds sing, not worrying about who hears or what they think.”-Rumi (beliefnet,com)
I love this quote because it reminds me of the importance of just being oneself. We waste way too many years of our lives worrying about other people’s opinions of us. Truth is that we are all different in our own special ways; we all have been blessed with a variety of talents. Nobody is exactly the same. Imagine how absolutely drab and boring this life would be if everyone were exactly the same.
Everyone has differing opinions. This fact should validate our own right to be different. We should follow our own hearts with the secure acceptance that not everyone is going to approve of us. We don’t need everyone’s approval. We just need to be the best possible version of ourselves. The litmus test is if we can look in the mirror and feel proud of the reflection looking back at us. We should enjoy the freedom to live our fullest life according to our own hopes and dreams, not other’s approval or disapproval.
At the end of the day, it is your own reflection that you have to deal with.
We should strive to “sing” our own songs with joy without worrying about “who hears us or what they think,” to paraphrase Rumi.
2019 is quickly coming to an end. Soon enough it will be history. Endings can be sad; in fact, depression increases this time of year. We tend to dwell on those goals we failed to accomplish; we tend to dwell on what could have been and what should have been. We tally up our losses and oftentimes neglect to consider our gains. The truth is that we cannot undo what has been done; we cannot go back and do what we should have done. We have to reconcile ourselves to our choices. It is too easy to search for someone or something to blame for our failures. Of course, we are influenced by conditions beyond our control, such as downward turns in the economy and illness.
We can, however, control whether to watch a movie on Netflix or write a chapter of our novel. We can control whether to spend money on buying shoes we don’t really need or donating money to a reputable charity. Our time is precious and once spent it is irretrievably gone forever.
We must reconcile ourselves to the consequences of our choices. If we waste our precious time dedicated to actions that do not move us towards our definition of prosperity (spiritual, physical, emotional, mental) then we have to reconcile ourselves to those consequences.
It takes courage to accept consequences for our own actions.
In 2020, define what your purpose is in your own life. What matters the most to you? How are you planning to achieve your purpose? What will this time next year look like to you?
Jeremiah 29:11 states: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Clearly, you do not have to go it alone. God is ever-present and is supportive of you. Lean on His support. He wants you to prosper and he offers you hope and a future.
A quote of which I have not been able to attribute to an author is:
“God has a purpose for your pain, a reason for your struggles, and a reward for your faithfulness. Don’t give up.”-unknown author (spiritualcleansing.org)
Don’t give up. Just don’t give up. God has a purpose for your life. Find that purpose. You have a purpose. Ask God for guidance to find that purpose. Lean on Him.
Unfortunately, in our world people tend to define success in monetary terms; in truth, success has a far greater definition than just money. When I think of a successful life, I remember my mother and how she shared love and joy. She genuinely loved from her heart and soul. She was never monetarily rich, but her spirit was rich beyond measure.
Define what success is to you. How will you achieve your definition of success?
Zig Ziglar wrote: “You are a success when you have made friends with your past, are focused on the present, and are optimistic about the future.” (Ziglar.com)
2020 is a new year. It is a new decade. This life’s journey only goes forward; there is no turning back on this road.
There is, however, always a sunrise.
With each new sunrise, how are you going to spend your precious time?