To everything there is a season…
We are in the midst of Sukkot, what Christians might know better from their Sunday school lessons as The Feast of Tabernacles or Feast of Booths. God gives the directions for celebrating in Leviticus 23.
39 “‘So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to the Lord for seven days; the first day is a day of Sabbath rest, and the eighth day also is a day of Sabbath rest. 40 On the first day you are to take branches from luxuriant trees—from palms, willows and other leafy trees—and rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. 41 Celebrate this as a festival to the Lord for seven days each year. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come; celebrate it in the seventh month. 42 Live in temporary shelters for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in such shelters 43 so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in temporary shelters when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.’”
Leviticus 23: 39-43
Sukkot is both a reflection on the wanderings of the Israelites in the desert before they entered the Promised Land as well as a festival of thanksgiving for the bountiful harvest (and in the desert culture of ancient Israel, also a prayer for rain!). Sukkot is celebrated just five days following Yom Kippur which follows 10 days after Rosh Hashanah. This time of year is full of celebrations! And of the three holidays, Sukkot is considered to be the most joyful and often includes loud singing and dancing (we haven’t done this part yet, but I think a family dance party is overdue!).
Traditionally, to celebrate Sukkot, families build temporary shelters to eat in, to study in, to even sleep in. We are really terrible at building things: we put up a pop-up canopy. For any readers who have actually built a sukkah , you have my admiration. We moved a table onto the deck and we have been eating outside.
Our first evening we had roast beef with fall veggies and for dessert we had caramel apples that I’ve been hoarding since the Great Frederick Fair. All the children (except Julie who is injured and on crutches right now) helped prepare the table for dinner. Raegan especially enjoyed getting out the nice dishes and setting a proper table (I confess, I use paper plates FAR too often—mostly because our dish washer is broken). “Mommy I love a fancy table!”
Last night, I was ready to just use paper plates, but Raegan insisted on setting a nicer table. I’m glad I have my girl to keep me on track! She’s absolutely right of course: celebrations need our full attention. So we used real plates to eat our rice and stir-fried veggies with popsicles for desert.
Each night we’ve read a chapter from Ecclesiastes (which is traditionally read during this week). Night one we read chapter 1, and night 2 we read chapter 3. Jay couldn’t resist singing the first part of the chapter to the well-known melody, Turn, Turn, Turn.
My favorite part of our celebration so far was when we saw the stars come out during dinner (we have to eat late since Jay works until 7), and I wondered out loud if the Israelites who lived in tents ever saw the stars and wondered if the promise had been fulfilled. Jay asked the kids what I meant by that. Listening to Caedmon talk about God’s promise to Abraham that the Israelites would be as the sands of the sea, and knowing that in Romans 9 we see the grafting in of the Gentiles into that promise, my heart was full.
24even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? 25 As he says in Hosea:
“I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people;
and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one,”
As you enjoy the season of fall, we invite you to join in the celebration of Sukkot. Put up a tent or a canopy and eat outside (or just eat a picnic outside!). Have a family dance party. Read Ecclesiastes this week. Or just soak in the bounty of the season and give thanks to the One who provides, Jehovah Jireh.