It's November. The holidays are coming! Think about that word—holidays. Holy days. Its etymology is far removed from its current stress-inducing connotation. The first of the big two- Thanksgiving - is around the corner. Thanksgiving is one holiday that has, perhaps because of its name, retained at least some of its original meaning and purpose. It is a day, as the name implies, for giving thanks. It's national gratitude day.
Gratitude and celebration are necessary for living a joyful and meaningful life. To be grateful, even when times are hard, transforms you. And, the Bible commands us to celebrate.
The Old Testament contains many very specific instructions on how to celebrate. That's right—God commands us to feast, enjoy and celebrate. Leviticus 23 outlines the Jewish calendar and its various festivals. The Feast of Tabernacles, a harvest festival, for example, was to be celebrated for seven days. Seven days of worship, feasting, being with family and friends! And everyone was welcomed! Deuteronomy 16 elaborates: "Be joyful at your Feast…Invite everyone…. For seven days celebrate … For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.” He reminds us in this passage that celebration is the pathway to joy.
Our Thanksgiving has evolved from harvest celebrations around the world, including the Feast of Tabernacles. And so, I want my holy day to draw from and connect with these rich traditions. The first Pilgrims who held that meal of gratitude had been through a tough year. More than half of their number had died during the first harsh winter. Without the help of the friendly Abnaki Indians Squanto and Samoset, they likely would have starved. They were grateful anyway.
True gratitude is not dependent on circumstances. God did not tell His people, "celebrate only if you have a great harvest.” He commanded them to celebrate regardless of how easy or tough the year had been and to be thankful, whether the harvest was great or small. Joy flows out of gratitude, not out of easy circumstances. So we choose to obey God's command to celebrate, and to remember, the blessings we have enjoyed for the past year. It is the secret to joy. Happy Holy Days to you and your family!
Barbara Brown ☺☺☺