Saturday, September 29, 2012

Feast of Tabernacles and Thanksgiving Meditation

As the Feast of Tabernacles (FOT) or Sukkot approaches as well as Canadian Thanksgiving,  I am preparing my mind to reflect and meditate on the meaning behind these seasons. The seasons also have special significance to me today as an immigrant, as it was almost a year ago within the same period that I was reunited with my family on Canadian soil, after I left them in Jamaica to begin PhD studies. As such I can appreciate Thanksgiving and its message as well as identify with the Israelites as immigrants and the joy of the Feast of Tabernacles.

As I prepared my mind today by attempting to listen to a semon on Zechariah preached by a pastor at a  2010 feast of Tabernacles commemorative service (see FOT sermon from Ian Boyne on Zechariah), I had a spiritual refreshing conversation with a friend of mine who also observes the festival.

My friend asked me if I would be attending any feast site this year, to which I responded that I did not think so, but may rather just listen virtually and attend the feast in meditation and spirit. As far as I know, there are no such celebrations in my town apart from Thanksgiving. Observing the FOT is not in main stream Christian tradition, and contemporary Jewish observance keep it with only adult males living/sleeping and having meals in hand-made and home-made booths for 8 days. Herbert Amstrong introduced a Christian remake of the Feast of Tabernacles celebration which differs from the Jewish tradition, that in my past as a child member of the Worldwide Church of God, the feast site was usually a hotel where the entire church went for 8 days of services and activities together. It was like a church camp meeting plus family vacation (See a balanced Wikipedia entry on Christian Feast of Tabernacles and compare with The Restored Church of God's teaching on this ordinance).

I also get the sense that Canadians and Americans kind of keep a remnant of this feast in the form of Thanksgiving.  Canadian Thanksgiving in particular falls this year (2012) on October 7th, which is within the Feast of Tabernacles celebration. From my own experience, I have come to the conclusion that the early pilgrims felt their journey to be likened to that of the Israelites in their entering the promised land. However during that period, there was an apparent unity among the pilgrims and the First nation peoples, which reflects a future expectation that one day the entire world will be united in worshipping and celebrating God.

My friend also showed me his mini sukkah, which inspires me to have a perfect family activity to commemorate the season. I hope to build a mini sukkah with my daughters during the feast of Tabernacles and have the occasion to tell them about the feast (and make the link with Thanksgiving) and explain to them the spiritual and cultural significance of this feast, while helping them understand the ordinace in light of past, present and even the future. I know that my firstborn of four years will be very receptive.

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