Our Jewish brothers and sisters are halfway through their Hanukkah celebrations in these days. Playing games, telling stories, and, of course praying the beautiful prayers of festival:
Baruch atta, Adonai,
Elohenu melech ha-olam,
V’higianu laz’man hazeh
Blessed is the Lord God, ruler of the universe,
for you have kept us in life, sustained us,
and brought us to this holy season…
The above is the principal story told in this relatively minor festival (that has only become secularly “major” in response to the Christmas flood in the end of December).
Think, Beloved, about the stories you’ve been grafted into.
Family stories. Heritage stories of the ancestors.
Contemporary stories around work, around this pandemic and how you have (or have not) dealt with it.
Marriage stories. Divorce stories. Birth stories. Death stories.
In these Middle Days of Advent we ponder the stories that have shaped us, by choice or by chance, and dissect them a bit. For some of these stories, we give thanks. In reflecting on some of these stories we adopt the posture of our holy Jewish siblings and give thanks that God has brought us through and now we’re on the other side, in a new story altogether.
But whether we like them or not, whether we retell them with joy or as a cautionary tale, the stories of our lives have shaped us.
The Hanukkah story is one of my favorites, and a story that Christians would know well (if we did our homework). It’s about how the light in the temple didn’t go out despite the fact that the oil should have run its course. But it didn’t…it stayed lit for eight extra nights, providing for the people the hope and fire needed to go on.
Beloved, if you’re reading this, you’re still here. Your oil may be low, but it has not run out, by God.
That’s part of your story, too…
For your Advent playlist put on the quiet and haunting tune by Novo Amor, “Carry You.“
And, well, let it carry you into the night on this new story…