And you shall eat there in the presence of the LORD your God, you and your households together, rejoicing in all the undertakings in which the LORD your God has blessed you.
With holidays just around the corner, are you ready to celebrate and celebrate big? Admittedly this has been a grueling year of disease, distancing, and disturbance, leaving many feeling discouraged and depressed. But that is all the more reason for why the time for celebration is now, when we really need it.
It is significant for us that the worship of God in the Old Testament centered on celebration and feasting. Nothing boring or monotonous here! God commanded seven “feasts” a year; four feasts in spring and three feasts in fall. “Throw a feast!”, God commands. “Take a break!”
God actually wrote these feast days into law for His people, codifying His desire for His children to punctuate time with days of joyous celebration and respite from daily routine. The feasts meant eating the fatted calf, singing, dancing, and renewing a sense of belonging to God and to each other.
God’s commanded feast days were more than holiday partying; they were joyful and happy times of celebrating God’s goodness. Festive moments became memorable moments, making for teachable moments for children and grandchildren. The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery opens a window onto these feast days:
Each of these feasts celebrated by refraining from the usual work of the day, by assembling together in fellowship and eating a festive meal of meat, grain (i.e. bread) and wine that had been ritually offered to God. Because of God’s goodness, these days were to be celebrated with great joy by everyone.
Celebration doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. Spanish settlers celebrated America’s first Thanksgiving in 1565, in St. Augustine, Florida, managing to make a feast out of bean soup. But they “feasted” because they wanted to celebrate God’s goodness in providing and protecting them through a painful year.
How wonderful that Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas are upon us! These ‘feast days’ are just what the Doctor ordered for tired and weary souls. Secularism and commercialism can’t steal them from us.
It has been a difficult year, but that’s all the more reason to celebrate God’s goodness. We need it. Even with social distancing, let’s make it happen! “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4).
A fellow traveler,
P. S. We have prepared a daily devotional to assist in your Advent celebration. Order your copy or copies of Lighten the Darkness here.