Tuesday, November 30, 2010

~ Day 9 ~ On Location ~

The weather is way too warm for this time of year. Shirt sleeves, shorts and flip-flops; little more like summer wear. Usually, by late November, the rains have started and the temperature has dropped. The chilly weather signals that Hanukkah is on its way. But even though it is too warm, there are other telltale signs of the season.  
 Suffganiot  (jelly doughnuts with powdered sugar) are displayed on trays by the dozens~ and have been available in increasing numbers since the last hag (holiday) ~ which was Sukkot. The shops have every hanukiah imaginable for sale. Even in the grocery stores, one can buy all that is needed to kindle the Hanukkah lights~ candles, oil lamps, wicks.... The children have been singing seasonal songs for a few weeks to get ready for the all important Gan Hanukkah party. (Gan = kindergarten). Costumes of Maccabee soldiers, hats that look like sivivon (tops) all make ready for plays about the miracles of Hanukkah~ usually performed under black lights to 
enhance the proud parents' viewing pleasure.

 In the city, there are few decorations ~ usually the 8 foot  Hanukkah menorah standing in significant places around town, lighted menorahs on street light poles. Personal family hanukiah  will be placed outside the front door on the walk-way to share the light with all that pass by. There is shopping but not the gift-buying madness that one may find in other countries this time of year. The contrast is noticeable as the accent of Hanukkah is not on glitzy decor or a glut of gifts.

The accent of Hanukkah is on what the G-d of Israel did for His people so very many years ago and continues to do today. We light the menorah, one light brighter each night, to remember His faithfulness.

There is unsurpassed joy at being in the Land especially at this time of the year. There is an ability to celebrate surrounded by constant reminders and not the pull to assimilate. There is something rich and settling in being 'on location' to the Miracles of Hanukkah. Unlike in the galut (diaspora) we do not say " Nes Gadol Haya Sham" ~ A great miracle happened there.
We have the privilege of proclaiming " Nes Gadol Haya Po"
~ A great miracle happened here~
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1 comment:

  1. November 30th 2010 (9)

    'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' [Jer 29:11]

    Many here in the west can reel off Jer 29:11 with unnatural haste almost, it seems, without thinking. It's almost as if after the words, "For I know," have been uttered the listener switches off content in knowledge that God WILL bless us and we utter a silent, "Thank You, Lord," before the concluding words of that verse even reach our ears. Should the verses either side of v11 be spoken we are oblivious to them for we know that the Lord blesses His children and that's all we need to know, isn't it?

    How foolish! How disgraceful! How conceited!

    In embracing this mind-set the whole basis of that wonderful verse has been lost; the reason for that blessing being submerged under a sea of selfishness.

    The joy of Jer 29:11 can only be understood when the context is revealed and received. The joy of verse 11 is to be found in the overlooked verses before and after it. Let us look afresh at them.

    "10 This is what the LORD says: 'When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfil my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,' declares the LORD, 'and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,' declares the LORD, 'and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.' ”

    Yes, of course, the Lord desires to bless us, even more than we are to receive that blessing, but that dear friends is not the point of this portion of Jeremiah. Surrounding v11, as if the bread of a sandwich, we find first v10 and then verses 12-14. As I read those 4 verses, overwhelmingly I am reduced to nothing more or nothing less than a worshipper. You see, it is not my blessing that fills my senses but rather my senses (and body) are lifted to Him in response to His faithfulness.

    How many human fathers have disowned and walked away from their children? As we read scripture we have the poignant picture of the waiting father as his son wallowed with the pigs; the father’s one wish that his son would come home. He waited and waited, arms open, for his son to come to his senses and return. It was not that those exiled in Babylon were better, less sinful or more qualified than the remnant remaining in Jerusalem; just as the prodigal’s brother was no more righteous than he.

    The exiles returned because there was their Waiting Father who was faithful to the promises He had made to them. In fact in Ex 33:19 the Lord, speaking to Moses, asked could He not show mercy and compassion on whom He chose to show mercy and compassion? What a disarming question.

    That Babylonian return from exile is mirrored again 2,500 years on as one by one the LORD is calling His own back to His own land. Whatever the world’s politicians might say, history and prophecy meet as each son and daughter of Abraham returns to Eretz Israel.

    It is good and proper this Hanukkah season to light candles in the time honoured tradition but let us never forget: when the LORD delivers His children it is not because of any qualities or qualifications we may or may not have but only because of His faithfulness to His promises. Let us rejoice in Him for the bread of His faithfulness outshines any candle we may light.

    Let us not just say, “A great miracle happened then,” but also, “A great miracle is happening now.”

    Steve Perry (UK) <><


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