Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Eight Days of Hanukkah

Tonight is the last night of Hanukkah, and this has been our first year celebrating it. This has been a wonderful time of spending it together as a family. In fact Jackasaurus said tonight, "I want Christmas day to be just like Hanukkah has been!" We gave no gifts for Hanukkah, but spent the time as family.

 John 10:22-23
22 Then came Hanukkah in Yerushalayim. It was winter, 23 and Yeshua was walking around inside the Temple area, in Shlomo's Colonnade.

Being new to celebrating Hanukkah I wanted to keep it simple, and make it about the actual celebration and not gifts. Christmas, this year, is really keyed down as well. We didn't buy the kids any gifts, but made them things instead. We want to instill in them that the important thing is people- not gifts. With those ideals in mind I started looking online for some great lessons to add to our Hanukkah celebration.

I found a great resource at Ministry to Children that talks about the different fruits of the Ruach HaKodesh (the Holy Spirit) and knew that this would be perfect. There are nine fruits, and eight days of Hanukkah, so we'd do two lessons on the last day. 

The kids didn't know what to think the first night, but were really excited that each one of them would get to help light the candles on different nights. Each night we light the shamash candle, say the prayers, light the first candle, say more prayers, light the rest and say and ending prayer. Then we talk about our lesson for the night. The first night was about love.

I don't know how I expected them to react to Hanukkah, but I didn't expect that they would fall in love with it so much. We didn't do games or give gifts, but learned how Adonai wants us to treat each other, and we talked about ways to make these gifts evident in our lives. They've enjoyed talking each day about the different lessons, making up stories about the pictures and what they think is happening in them, and most importantly coloring those pages. A few more pictures from each of the nights.

I love how the shamash candle melted into the fourth day's candle

We even had some extra helpers on hand for the seventh night. They loved listening to the lesson and interacting with it as they learned about Self Control. Our last night was special as we did two lessons on Patience and Goodness. 

One thing that I've loved about this celebration is that it's turned our focus away from getting things. We've always instilled in our children that it's people that matter, not how much money you make, or what you have- but the people. If you fail to love people, and have a million dollars, then you have nothing. It's a lesson our children have taken to heart; even taking some of their own allowance (their own idea, not ours) and buying a toy for a child in need. This holiday season, amidst all the glitz, lights, presents, and food, please remember that those things will come and go but it's the people that matter. 

Matthew 25:34-40
34 "Then the King will say to those on his right, `Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take your inheritance, the Kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you made me your guest,36 I needed clothes and you provided them, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.' 37 Then the people who have done what God wants will reply, `Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and make you our guest, or needing clothes and provide them? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison, and visit you?' 40 The King will say to them, `Yes! I tell you that whenever you did these things for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did them for me!'

May we all seek to do more for other people, choosing to love others ahead of ourselves and place the importance of family above the desire to gain more things. 

Until Next Time,

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