Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Season of Miracles - Holy Land Moments

A Season of Miracles

December 19, 2011

“Your ways, God, are holy.
What god is as great as our God?
You are the God who performs miracles;
you display your power among the peoples.” — Psalm 77:13-14

This is a season of miracles and celebrations. My Christian friends celebrate the miracle of a birth at Christmas, and my Jewish brothers and sisters celebrate the miracle of a spiritual and military victory during the celebration of Hanukkah. And at the center of both these celebrations is our God of miracles.

As the psalm writer noted, “What god is as great as our God?” It’s certainly a theme echoed throughout the Scriptures. After the miraculous escape from Egypt and the daring dash across the Red Sea, Moses and the people of Israel erupt in song and praise God: “Who among the gods is like you, LORD? Who is like you — majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? You stretch out your right hand, and the earth swallows your enemies" (Exodus 15:11-12). In Psalm 86:8, David writes “Among the gods there is none like you, LORD; no deeds can compare with yours.”

Christmas and Hanukkah are a time to remember that we worship and serve a God who is totally unique. He alone is able to perform mighty deeds for those who love Him. He alone is powerful and worthy of our love and adoration. God alone is able to intervene in human history and work miracles on behalf of His people.

Remembering God’s miracles and faithfulness sustained the people of Israel through their many difficulties and enabled them to act when all avenues seemed closed to them. Hanukkah reminds us of the importance of bitachon, or “trust in God.” It was the Jews’ trust in a loving and caring God that prompted them, the few and weak, to rise up against the many and mighty. It was their faith in the God of miracles to light the temple menorah with the last remaining flask of pure oil. They acted because they knew that God was capable and trustworthy.

When we are faced with obstacles and overwhelming difficulties, we need to remember how God has acted on our behalf in the past and how good He has been to us. Then, we can step out and act in faith, knowing He will care for us.

During this season, in addition to our traditional greetings of “Merry Christmas,” or “Happy Hanukkah,” we should add this greeting as well: “May the God of Miracles bless you and keep you this season and throughout the year.”

With prayers for shalom, peace,

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein

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