During the festival of Hanukkah, it is common and customary to make and eat doughnuts (sufganiyot) which are fried and filled with jelly or custard, as well as other fried foods, to commemorate and remember the miracle of the Temple oil. The details and history of the miracle can be easily found and googled, so I won’t go into them here. The festival itself commemorates the dedication of the second temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean revolt (2nd century BC). The miracle occurred when a small quantity of oil, enough for only one day, was all that was had to light the menorah and the menorah was supposed to burn through the night each night. Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days, which was the time needed to prepare more oil. There is so much more to the story and the history, but this is enough understanding for my purposes.
I like food. A lot even. I love to cook and to bake. I especially enjoy bread making. I really do enjoy my food. Do you know what I think about when I eat? Usually not much of anything. I just sort of eat. There may be some nice dinner chatter or not, but really, I just eat. I started thinking about that when I asked for idea for future blog postings and someone mentioned doughnuts. I immediately thought of the miracle of the oil and the significance that food, specifically a type of doughnut, has taken in the festival. I started thinking about other activities that I do and enjoy and what I thought about during those times. Most often the answer was either nothing, or nothing that lead me back to God. I realize now, that I am missing out on a lot.
Our Christian festivals and holidays have some significance like this. Some have ham for Christmas, some turkey or duck. The same at Easter. Favorite family dishes and desserts abound. Some have little and are thankful for what they can get by with, some have extravagance. How much of it really is in remembrance of an event that points us back to the power and majesty of God? The Easter ham does not point to the Resurrection of a Jewish carpenter. The Christmas goose does not remind us of the birth of a savior whose parents could only offer the poorest sacrifice of two pigeons or turtle doves. (Normally it would have required a lamb, except if one could not be afforded, then two doves or pigeons, which were even cheaper, could be offered.) What does our pumpkin pie signify? How about that stuffing? We celebrate, but we do so without anything that draws us back to God. We could learn a lot from the holy doughnut indeed.
Here is my suggestion, let’s make a conscious effort to find the mundane things that we experience everyday, and work on using those to remind us of God and His majesty. When the alarm goes off in it’s ear piercing wail, think of the trumpets of Joshua and the miracle of the walls falling. When the shower begins, remember the rains that brought the flood and God’s deliverance of the faithful. With your sandwich remember the Eucharist and the suffering of Christ. There are so many things that we can find to use to draw us back to God so that we remain focused on that which is important that we experience everyday. Find your holy doughnuts and eat of them often. Amen.