When I think back on my childhood, some of my fondest memories come from holidays. I remember sitting around the dining room table eating turkey on Thanksgiving, going to the annual Holy Week ecumenical breakfasts at the local Methodist Church, and waiting excitedly for my parents to wake up on Christmas morning. While most days seemed to blend into each other in the midsts of everyday life, these holiday celebrations stood out. They were special. Often times we would have family come to visit or we would go and visit extended family somewhere else. These days were markers along the road, giving shape and focus to all of the days in between.
Feasts and festivals are important for us. They break up the monotony of day to day life, they give us opportunities to come together as families and communities to remember the things that are most important in our lives. Life in ancient Israel was structured around the weekly celebration of the Sabbath and seven other key festivals throughout the year which included the Feasts of Passover, Unleaven Bread, First Fruits, Pentecost, Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles. These festivals helped them to remember their past (e.g. Passover and Tabernacles), celebrate God’s provision in their lives (e.g. First Fruits and Pentecost), and rejoice in God’s work among them (e.g. Atonement and Trumpets). They also provided Israel with an opportunity to come together as a community for worship and fellowship which helped to define them as a community and as the people of God.
The Rev. Eric Zolner
Father Eric is a 3rd generation Anglican and the Rector of All Saints Anglican Church in Springfield, MO.