Song of Mary

Edie Morris

Magnificat, or Song of Mary, may be featured.  John 3 is another such reading.  A section of that chapter is as follows:

John 3:16-19, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”

To switch gears, this Sunday is also the beginning of Hanukkah, which begins at sundown on Sunday, December 18 this year and ends at sundown on Monday, December 26.  Our Jewish brothers and sisters will celebrate this eight-day festival of rededication, also known as the Festival of Lights, by lighting the candle holder known as a menorah, or alternatively, a hannukiah.  

The story of Hanukkah is in the book of Maccabees and tells of the miraculous victory of the Jewish freedom fighters over the Greek occupiers in the year 139 BCE.  After recapturing the Holy Temple in Jerusalem (which had been converted into a place of idol worship by the Greeks), the Jews searched for pure oil with which to re-light the Temple menorah.  They found just enough oil to burn for only one day, but miraculously, the menorah burned for eight days until more oil could be brought.  This miracle is attributed to God and the faith the Jews had in God.  The word hanukkah means dedication.  

On each of the eight nights of Hanukkah (alternatively:  Chanukah), Jewish people light special nine-branched candelabras (menorahs), lighting another candle each night until on the eighth night, eight flames are burning brightly, plus the helper candle in the middle.  The lighting takes place at home, in a doorway or near a window and is performed after brief blessings are recited.  In our times, communal menorah lightings are often held in public squares, sharing the Hanukkah message of the triumph of light over darkness and the freedom to worship God.

As part of the celebration of Hanukkah and the commemoration of the miracle of the oil, oily foods are eaten.  Since the Middle Ages, jam-filled doughnuts have been a favorite food.  Potato pancakes, known as latkes, are also a classic.  It is also customary to eat dairy, which recalls how the brave Jews served cheese and wine to a Greek general before defeating him.  A meal might start with matzoh ball soup, followed by traditional brisket and a stack of potato latkes, sometimes with applesauce.  If you prefer, a roasted chicken can be served instead of the brisket.

Other Hanukkah customs include playing with a four-sided spinning top called a dreidel and exchanging a small gift on each night of the festival.  Good hostess gifts include chocolate, gourmet applesauce, candles, books, or board games.  Eating gelt (gold foil covered chocolate coins) while playing dreidel is also a custom, as is wearing items of blue and white.  The colors of blue and white hold a great symbolic significance to Jewish people.  Often Mary, the mother of Jesus, is shown wearing blue and white, even in the Christian tradition.

The traditional greeting for the Jewish holiday in English is “Happy Hanukkah!”  Other ways include “Happy Holiday!” and “Happy Festival of Lights!”

The last night of Hanukkah has this blessing:  “Blessed are you, Our God, Ruler of the Universe, who performed miracles for our ancestors in their days at this season.”
All those who worship God can be children of the Light instead of staying in darkness.  And so, we close with prayer:  Dear God, your faithfulness has been great, leading us to this day of anticipation and celebrations.  May the glorious light of your steadfast love shine brightly in us and through us, that all may give you praise and glory.  Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.  In the Savior’s name we pray,  Amen.

We worship at 9:30 a.m. every Sunday, followed by coffee, tea, and fellowship.  Sunday school starts at approximately 11:00 a.m.  Our address is 631 East Ash, just west of Lexington High School.  For more information, please call the church at (405) 527—3506 to leave a message, or contact Pastor David Cook directly at (405) 406—6174.