Service for Unity, in connection with the Jewish people
Thursday, December, 1st, 2022
Hanukkah and the inextinguishable hope of the human story
What I find fascinating about Hanukkah — the Jewish festival of lights we celebrate at this time of the year — is the way its story was transformed by time. It began as the simple story of a military victory, the success of the Maccabees as they fought for religious freedom against the repressive rule of the Syrian-Greek emperor. However, things did not go smoothly thereafter. […]
Then came the disastrous rebellion against Rome (66-73 CE), as a result of which Israel was defeated and the Temple destroyed. The work of the Maccabees now lay in ruins. Some rabbis at the time believed that the festival of Hanukkah should be abolished. Why celebrate a freedom that had been lost? Others disagreed, and their view prevailed. Freedom may have been lost, but not hope. […]
That was when another story came to the fore, about how the Maccabees, in purifying the Temple, found a single cruse of oil, its seal still intact, from which they relit the Menorah, the great candelabrum in the Temple. Miraculously, the light lasted eight days and that became the central narrative of Hanukkah. It became a festival of light within the Jewish home symbolising a faith that could not be extinguished. Its message was captured in a phrase from the prophet Zekhariah: “Not by might nor by power but by My spirit, says the Lord Almighty.” […]
Something in the human spirit survives even the worst of tragedies, allowing us to rebuild shattered lives, broken institutions and injured nations. That to me is the Jewish story. Jews survived all the defeats, expulsions, persecutions and pogroms, even the Holocaust itself, because they never gave up the faith that one day they would be free to live as Jews without fear. That is the ever-renewed power of the faith whose symbol is Hanukkah and its light of inextinguishable hope.
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
(To be adapted according to each place)
R. Amen, amen, blessed be the God of Israel
Or another chorus.
1.Loving Father, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
you who mourned because of the violence between Cain and Abel,
–we pray to you for peace in the Holy Land, this land where you have chosen to come and join us in our humanity
2.Loving Father, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
you who made possible the reconciliation between Joseph and his brothers,
-for any contempt for your people Israel, forgive us
-we pray to you, Father, to make fraternity grow between the Jewish people and the nations.
3.Loving Father, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
you who brought Israel out of Egypt and made your people free,
-give your joy to the Jewish people, and keep them faithful to your covenant.
4.Loving Father, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
you who united the twelve tribes of Israel around the Torah,
-give peace to the Jews who believe in Jesus.
5.Loving Father, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
you who sent your Son Jesus to save us,
-pour out your blessing on Christians who are of Jewish descent.
6.Loving Father, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
Father of Jesus Christ,
–bring together in unity all Christian churches.
7.Loving Father, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
– you have given the Jewish people the promise of the coming of the Messiah,
– you have given the Church the expectation of the expectation of your son’s return.
– in the Holy Spirit we say with the whole Church: “Maranatha, come Lord”.