What does Hanukkah teach us?

Thoughts on the Hanukkah festival in dark times

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Thank you very much for the invitation to light the fourth light on the Hanukkah candlestick today. This is a great honor and joy for me and a strong sign of our solidarity.
We need light these days. Not only because the days are getting shorter and shorter, but also because this year we are seeing how threatened our lives are. The pandemic teaches us humility and shows us that we are living in the midst of other life. We don't have everything in hand; we take over when we think we can control everything. We are part of the one creation, creatures of God. Our lives thrive when we take our limits seriously and celebrate God's possibilities and wonders. Like Hanukkah.
The festival commemorates the rededication of the temple. You light eight lights. Actually there was only enough oil for one at the first festival. But then the candlestick burned for eight days. God's splendor and blessing led and leads the people of Israel beyond what seemed possible: that is the message!
As in many festivals in our traditions, we celebrate God's opportunities by pausing. The light should be on for half an hour and the family, the community gather around the candlestick: talk, play, eat, receive life - and experience the blessing just by letting go, knowing that they are carried, “by the eternal God, the miracles has done for our fathers and mothers, in those days and in our time ”.
Those who come to rest in this light, receive blessings and new strength, can then themselves carry light into the world. The glow of the candles is reflected in our hearts and faces. It's getting brighter! When lighting the Hanukkah candlesticks, like with the Advent wreath, we experience how the light illuminates our world more and more. A glimpse of what is promised: That justice and peace kiss, that humans and animals live in peace with one another, that God is all in all.
At the same time, at the Festival of Lights, the dark sides that threaten our society are not hidden from us. The threatening letters against people who stand up for refugees, the threats against people with a different skin color, that the synagogues in our country still have to be protected by police forces, yes, that the pandemic is fueling anti-Semitism again.
Against all this dark whisper and all these conspiracy theories that threaten life and limb, who believe differently, pray differently, eat differently, love differently and speak differently than the mainstream does, against all of this we need God's light.
In this light we stand together. In this light we take responsibility for one another and for our world. In this light we wait for him of whom the book of Isaiah speaks: "Above you is eternal, and his glory appears over you." (Isaiah 60: 2)
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