Culture Clash by Patrick Henry Reardon 

Culture Clash

An Ancient Festival's Enduring Lessons

Back when I was still young and strong enough to pastor a congregation, I made sure, each year, that our folks did at least something—usually a Vespers service—to mark the Jewish festival of Hanukkah. After all, I reasoned, Jesus observed it (cf. John 10:22). In our popular culture, I fear, the lessons of Hanukkah are rather general and abstract. One suspects that few Americans think of the festival as the anniversary of an "event." Much less, perhaps, do they suspect which event.

Well, the event was the purification and rededication of the Second Temple (on December 14, 164 b.c.) after its defilement by Hellenic pagans three years earlier. The hero most notably responsible for that salutary enterprise, -Judas Maccabaeus, decreed an annual feast of eight days to commemorate it. One wishes that history were better known among us now.

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Patrick Henry Reardon is pastor emeritus of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois, and the author of numerous books, including, most recently, Out of Step with God: Orthodox Christian Reflections on the Book of Numbers (Ancient Faith Publishing, 2019).

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