To celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, first of all, feasting is required! Seven days of feast dinners, originally celebrating the harvest, so an abundance of food is called for. I am trying to organize my recipes into “everyday” and “holiday.” The holiday section contains the best and most special dinners and sides I make – often the ones that we can only have a once or twice a year because of expense or how time consuming they are to prepare. I am furthermore trying to subdivide these two sections into spring, summer, fall, and winter, to take advantage of seasonal produce and groceries. The Sabbath and feast day dinners I make come from the holiday section, so that these special feasts are set apart from the meals we eat everyday.
I normally try to have family and friends over on the feast days, including Tabernacles. I also make the feast day dinners special by having appetizers, nuts, and chocolates out (which is definitely NOT everyday), and three or four sides with the main dish, plus homemade rolls or nut breads or condiments. And always, special desserts. We never have dessert on regular days, so that is a big part of setting the feast dinner apart from the ordinary. The biggest holidays in our national year are Thanksgiving and Christmas, so I try to make the feast day dinners at least like a typical Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner for abundance and specialness.
I put on my best tablecloth, and put seven candles in the center of table, with whatever decorations I am using. I serve the feast on my best china. Before the dessert, we have communion, and acknowledge Jesus our sin sacrifice, and thank Him for our salvation and new life. We dedicate our hearts in love to YHVH, and offer our lives as living sacrifices to Him. We haven’t done too much praise and worship at this point before, but it is something I want to add this year to our feasts. This is the most important part of the holiday – setting our hearts in gratitude, thanksgiving, and humility before YHVH. After supper, if family and friends were able to come over, we visit and play games – what we would normally do on a holiday.
Tabernacles celebrates Immanuel, God with us. This year I am putting my nativity out for the seven- day holiday – especially appropriate since Jesus was most likely born on the first day of the feast and circumcised on the eighth day. The Scripture commands decorating with the foliage of beautiful trees, and beautiful fruits. It makes me think of the cornucopias that used to be used for decorations at Thanksgiving. In fact, some think that the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving was patterned after the Feast of Tabernacles, in order to rejoice and give glory to God for an abundant harvest. So to bring out the abundance of fruit theme, next year I am going to look at estate sales all year and see if I can find the Della Robbia style of home decorations, that I can convert to use during Tabernacles.
And every year our church throws a big Feast of Tabernacles bash, where the whole church gets together, and a local Messianic Jewish congregation comes, all dressed in their finest regalia, and leads us in joyful praise and dancing. It is a lot of fun. We do not miss that.
We have not actually built a booth to dwell in yet. But we are learning … For us, our main focus during Tabernacles is not only what God has done to dwell with us, but what He will do to dwell with us – He will return, and we will celebrate a seven- day marriage supper of exquisite joy! And our little celebrations now ought to express that gratitude, that anticipation, that hope, and that joy, in the best way we know how.