Traditions are beautiful. I can almost think of nothing sweeter than when my children’s excitement grows when a beloved yearly tradition grows near.
Unfortunately, sometimes traditions are lost. As some of you may know, my family decided that Christmas might not be the best way to celebrate Christ a few years ago. How I mourned my loss of traditions! A simple search about the roots of Halloween for a blog post lead me to learn about the roots of Christmas as well. At which point, bewildered and shocked, we decided to no longer celebrate our beloved holiday.
If you are in the same place that we were, then a big hug to you! It’s tough. But through it all, God has been near, and He has led us to celebrate Him in an entirely new way. Actually, it’s not a new way to us, but a century’s old way that the Lord Himself instituted.
If you would have told me a few years ago that our family would celebrate a Jewish holiday in the future I would have laughed while shaking my head. I mean, that’s kind of strange, isn’t it? We aren’t Jewish.
But little by little, God spoke to my heart that I shouldn’t be so close minded. All of the Biblical Feasts pointed to Christ. They were God-instituted, and not created by man. So I breathed a prayer, and began to study.
Oh, what wonderous things I found! I believe that it was providence that I truly began to dig into this topic shortly before the Feast of Tabernacles (or Sukkot, in Hebrew). Jesus was likely born during this time, and we were able prepare our home and hearts to celebrate.
The heart of the Feast of Tabernacles revolves around both a remembrance of the Israelites forty years in the wilderness and a harvest celebration. The Israelites lived in booths (or tabernacles…sukkahs in Hebrew) during their wanderings. The Feast of Tabernacles is a time for us to remember that while they lived in these temporary dwellings, God was their shelter. It is also a time to celebrate the harvest. There are so many beautiful meanings to this festival, but for now I’m going to discuss how we celebrated our Savior throughout it.
Based on the knowledge of when John the Baptist was born (in the Spring, near Passover), we can come to the conclusion that Christ was likely born of Mary in the fall.
And The Word became flesh, and tabernacled among us.
Christ, our Lord, was likely born in a crude shelter, a sukkah. In Genesis, we learn that booths for livestock were called such.
Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built for himself a house and made booths for his livestock; therefore the place is named Succoth.
Oh, how my heart sung! My children and I began to make decorations for our sukkah. Instead of using a tent, we decorated our screened in back porch, filling it with Bible verses and fall décor.
Out came our Nativity sets. Eager hands played out the story as we retold our Savior’s human birth.
Christmas music…no not Christmas music, but Savior’s birth music, wafted through our van as we ran errands throughout the week. We had a “shepherd’s meal,” feasting on what we imagined the shepherds might have eaten on the day they met Jesus in Bethlehem. By candlelight, we ate potato soup, bread, fruits, nuts, and grape juice.
We studied how Jesus is our Living Water. Traditionally, at the end of Sukkot a blessing for rain is spoken. During the Feast of Tabernacles this is what our Lord spoke:
Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'”
Oh, how thankful I am for this time! Two days of the Feast of Tabernacles remain, and we plan on having a harvest celebration as well as a celebratory meal. I can’t begin to say how meaningful this week has been. Celebrating Christ without the distractions of the Christmas season or anticipation of gifts has been a tremendous blessing to us all.