The Bible’s Thanksgiving Celebration
In our Canadian culture, fall is the season where we take time to be thankful by celebrating Thanksgiving. God had the same idea long before we did, when He asked His people to celebrate Sukkot (pronounced Sue-COAT). Sukkot (also known as the Feast of Tabernacles or the Feast of Booths) is a week-long, joyful harvest holiday in which God’s people celebrate His provision in their lives.
God told His people to live in sukkahs (booths/tabernacles) for the seven days of the harvest holiday because that is what they did when they wandered in the desert for 40 years (Numbers 14). God wanted the Israelite descendants to remember that time — how God brought them out of Egypt and provided for them in the desert.
Sukkot is joyful — a time of gratefulness and thanksgiving to God. It is also a time of showing hospitality — people invite friends over to have dinner with them in their homemade sukkah. So, it’s quite appropriate that Sukkot coincides with Thanksgiving — a perfect time to show hospitality and thank God for His faithfulness. It’s also a time to be generous — people give to the poor and share with those in need. Part of Sukkot is remembering that possessions are temporary and can come and go; it is God who provides for us, and God whose love and grace is permanent.
As Christians we know, as John 1:4 says, that Jesus became flesh and “tabernacled among us.” We look forward to when He returns one day and our sukkahs are made from the glory of God, and our hospitality and fellowship is with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit forever and ever!
How to Celebrate
God told His people to live in temporary shelters (sukkahs) for a whole week during this holiday. Part of it had to do with The Feast of Tabernacles being a harvest holiday — people would have been out in the fields working and could just stay out and sleep in their little booths for the week. But another reason was because God wanted the Israelites to remember how He was with them and provided for them when they were living in temporary shelters during their wandering in the wilderness. Sukkot is a time to remember God’s great provision.
- You may not want to build an actual shelter, but if you have kids, grandkids, or if you just want to be awesome, it might be fun to build a blanket fort together! Once you’re finished, sit inside and invite everyone to share one way God provides for your family.
- If you want to feel like a real Israelite, make your fort in your backyard and eat supper in it as a family or with friends one day this week. Read Exodus 16 after your meal and discuss how God provided for His people.
One of the main traditions of Sukkot is to show hospitality to others. This is because it is a harvest holiday — people would have just brought in their fall crops and had an abundance of food. God also asked His people to give food offerings, and to celebrate this holiday with family, servants, foreigners, widows and orphans. God wanted His people to rejoice in Him and one another!
- It’s the Thanksgiving season, so many of us are already getting together with family and friends. Share what you are thankful for and ways God has provided for you.
- Consider having friends over for a meal at some point this week. Inviting people into your home is a great way to show hospitality and care for those around you.
- Invite your co-workers to have a potluck or a special lunch out. Take time to get to know them better and to find out some things they are grateful for in their lives. Look for opportunities to share your faith as you talk about thankfulness.
Giving to the Poor
During Sukkot, people usually provide for those in need. This is because God told the Israelites to invite everyone to their celebrations — the poor, the widow, the foreigner, and the orphan. And because this is a harvest holiday, there is also the reminder that God told the Israelites not to glean to the very edges of their fields (Leviticus 19:9-10) or go over them a second time. What was left could be gathered by the poor and the foreigner.
If you do have friends over this week or get together with co-workers, consider inviting everyone to bring a canned good or other food that can be given to one of the services in Red Deer that offers food to those in need. Below are two places in our community where you can drop off a food donation this week!
- Fairview School (5901 55 Street) and G.H. Dawe School (100-56 Holt Street)
These schools are in need of hampers filled with items to help these kids and their families flourish during the week and weekend. Needs include: laundry soap, body soap, shampoo, deodorant, granola bars, snacks, pancake mix and syrup, cereals, peanut butter, jam, soups, pasta and sauce, and other easy-to-prepare items.
- Mustard Seed 6002 – 54 Avenue
Drop off times Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 11:00 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.
Donations of all kinds are accepted to feed persons on site and for their lunch program, which feeds 350 students every school day.
- CrossRoads Church
Food donations for school breakfast programs and take home food hampers can also be dropped off at the church in the food donation bin in Ministry Lane. Gently-used winter wear for children accepted in the clothing donation bin in Ministry Lane.
So, these are just a few ways we can remember and celebrate God’s provision in our lives this week during the holiday of Sukkot!
* Do you plan to celebrate in any way?