First nights of Chanukah, beginning of Advent December 07 2018

It’s all about the coming of Light out of darkness!

It’s the beginning of what Christians call “Advent,” and what, in the Hebrew tradition, is called “Chanukah.”

The Maccabees were a rebellious renegade band against the tyrant, Antiochus, who had taken over Jerusalem, defiling the Jewish temple with its the sacred Torah, and snuffing the Eternal Flame.  With guerilla-styled warfare, a very few reclaimed the Holy City with Judah Maccabee as the band’s leader. This was in a time shortly before the turning point of time in the Roman era.

This group immediately re-lit the Eternal Flame in the Temple, but they realized almost at once that there was only oil in the lamp for the Eternal Flame for a few days.  It takes many days to process and purify the oil for the burning of the lamp. The Hebrew women set about hurrying to refine the oil they could find to be able to burn it in the temple. Judah Maccabee swore that he would not eat or sleep until the oil was ready, and he placed himself next to the lamp to kneel in prayer to keep the flame alive without further interruption.

Eight days and nights it took for the diligent women to prepare the oil. Judah’s life was in peril, and he lost consciousness more than once, but never succumbed to eating or sleep, as he had promised. The oil rescued both the Eternal Flame and also Judah Maccabee. And Chanukah celebrates this eight-day miracle of reverence for this symbolic Light that meant so much to the Hebrew people of old — and the present. A celebration of Light, of preserving the Light, of honoring the Light.

For Advent, here is a little story of how to honor the change that comes in December as Advent calendars mark off the days until the 25th with the “Birth of the Light,” celebrated as “Christmas,” four days after the Solstice. Then Sun begins once more to wax instead of to wane. The Light starts to hold sway over darkness.

Here’s a little story picture about this for Advent:

The Blue Angel
(First Sunday of Advent)

How do we know that Christmas is coming?  You cannot see it with your eyes, because the days and nights are as they usually are, people live and regularly go about their business.  You cannot hear it with your ears because the sounds are the same noises as we always understand:  cars drive by and planes pass overhead, children play and cry out as they still do.

And yet, four weeks before Christmas something happens that is very important:  a great angel descends from heaven to invite the inhabitants of the earth to prepare for Christmas. He is dressed in a grand cloak of blue, woven of silence and peace. Most people do not notice him because they are so busy with other things.  But the angel sings in a voice profound, and only those who have an attentive heart can hear him.

He sings: “Heaven comes to the earth, God lives in the hearts of men. Pay attention!  Open the door!”

It is on the first Sunday of Advent that the angel passes and speaks to all people.  And those who are attentive in their hearts can prepare for Christmas and sing the song that ignites a spark….