I've never celebrated the Biblical feasts, and I almost didn't do it this year. Although it was a part of our homeschool curriculum, I almost sold it a month ago in order to go in a different direction. The Biblical feasts looked like a bit much, and the thought of doing something easier and "more fun" was so much more appealing.
But I knew I needed to.
After praying for direction and guidance, I knew I needed to move forward on the path that we were on. Deep down, I knew that this was important.
We began with Shabbat one Friday evening in the spring. Shabbat is the holy day of rest that God commanded to His people. It is a day that was to be set apart for worship, fellowship, and remembrance. It is a gentle and quiet day where His people recall how He created the heavens and the earth in six days, resting on the seventh.
We had just started My Father's World: Creation to the Greeks when we began to learn about Shabbat. I read Celebrating Biblical Feasts (CBF) and loved the New Testament significance of it all-- this time to put things in order and put God first in our lives.
That evening, we prepared a challah, feast, and grape juice and participated in the blessings and prayers of remembrance. It was such a sweet time for my family, and the next day we enjoyed the rest and simplicity of our day.
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur
This Fall, we flipped back to the curriculum pages on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Rosh Hashanah is more commonly known as The Feast of Trumpets, and it is a joyful time of celebration, marking a "spriritual new year, a special time set apart for a new beginning with the Lord. It celebrates the Birthday of the World."(CBF, pg. 127)
For Rosh Hashanah, we made shofars and blew them in celebration and praise (Psalm. 150:1-3). We prepared a round GF bread, "symbolic of our desire for a full and round year." We also prepared a feast of salmon and glazed carrots, green beans, and cucumber salad. We had grape juice and apples dipped in honey, symbolizing our hopes for a "sweet new year."
Each morning over the next ten days, we spoke the following words from Mishneh Torah in preparation for Yom Kippur.
"Awake, you that are sleepy and ponder your deeds: remember your Creator and go to Him for forgiveness. Don't be like those who miss reality in their hunt after shadows, and waste your years in seeking after vain things which can neither profit nor deliver. Look well to your souls and consider your deeds; let each one of you forsake his evil ways and thoughts, and return unto the Lord, so that He may have mercy on you."
We also blew our horns during that time, and read the ten reasons for blowing the shofar from CBF, one each day. These days were a time of reflection and repentance. It was a time to examine our hearts and align ourselves with God. And it was a reminder of the sound we all will hear one day when Christ comes back for His church.
The Feast of Tabernacles
Last week, we prepared a sukkah or booth for the Feast of Tabernacles. My husband set up our canopy, and the girls made banners of worship and the sweetest of centerpieces. The sukkah is a shaky and temporary structure that reminds us of the permanent home we will share with Christ one day.
There were three feasts that the Lord commanded to the children of Israel: Passover, Shavuoth, and Sukkoth, or the Feast of Tabernacles. This feast took place after the great harvest and served as a time of thanksgiving and praise unto God. It begins five days after Yom Kippur and lasts for a week.
On that evening, we had family over, and as much as I had hoped for the perfect evening, everything that could have gone wrong with the preparation of the food did. The roasted chicken that I pulled out of the oven wasn't cooked all the way through. The potatoes were still hard, the challah came out flat, and my whole house filled with smoke as the pumpkin pie splattered oil in the oven.
I quickly cut up the chicken to saute it on the stove, and set the potatoes to cook for longer; and in the midst of dirty dishes and hungry children, I got quiet, really quiet.
I got still, and I prayed.
I prayed that The Lord would redeem this time of worship and fellowship. I prayed that the food I prepared would nourish my family and serve as a blessing unto everyone at our table. I prayed to keep my eyes on what was most important, and I basked in His presence.
He truly gives a peace that surpasses all understanding.
No, the candle that I lit didn’t burn as I’d hoped. And no, the challah didn’t suddenly become light and fluffy. I didn't have the "right" candles and probably didn't do all of the correct blessings or prayers in the right order.
But there was joy in the faces of those gathered in our home. There was laughter. There was celebration. And most importantly, there was God.
As I sat in our sukkah that evening, amidst the blowing sheets and flickering lights, I was able to see and reflect on why remembrance is so important. Over the past hundred years, there has been a deliberate attempt to forget. Our center has shifted toward achievement, distraction, and entertainment. Our focus has shifted from God to ourselves.
Our society has forgotten.
It has taken God out of our schools, out of our conversations, and out of our daily lives. We have become too busy—too busy to be still, to rest, to worship. We have become too busy for God.
Throughout this past week, we have spent our mornings reciting scriptures and focusing on the One, who holds it all together. We have kept our eyes on things above, looking at our true shelter and refuge, and the permanent home we will one day share with Him.
We have spent our week in remembrance.
On Friday evening, we will share our final feast together as a family, and soon after, our sukkah will come down. The sheets will be folded, the lights put away.
But this week will never be forgotten.