Better start making your lists and checking them twice if you want to get in before the rush starts!
No? Well there’s always Easter – crossed buns are already for sale at most supermarkets and bakeries. And if you can’t wait that long, there’s always Chinese New Year which kicks off a 2 week festival in only 12 days!
These festivals, regardless of your level of excitement about their approach are the way that we mark time. Our calendars, work cycles, school year and family get together’s revolve around key dates in the year when we consider it important to spend time together for whatever reason.
For us, it might simply be a case of a long weekend and a bit of a breather or an excuse to go to the beach or snow for a quick getaway. For others it is a major time to celebrate and instil traditions that will carry over to future generations.
In Israel, life revolved around the harvest year. This is connected back to the promise God made to Noah when he came off the ark:
While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” ~ Genesis 8:22
While Israel was being prepared to enter the promised land, this cycle was expanded to 7 festivals or celebrations that measured time on a weekly and annual basis. The 7 festivals are summarised in Leviticus 23.
The cycle begins with the weekly Sabbath and follows through with the grain harvest feasts of Passover, First Fruits, and Pentecost. These are followed later in the year by the festivals of Trumpets, Atonement and Booths in the later half of the year.
The festivals involved eating and drinking. We are reminded that the Son of Man came eating and drinking (Matt 11:18-19, Luke 7:33-35) and each of these not only point us to Jesus, but call us to celebrate God’s work of redemption. When we observe communion today, with bread and wine (eating and drinking!) we are celebrating Christ and anticipating the feast at the end of history (1 Cor 5:6-8, 11:23-26, Rev 19:9).
This Sunday at Kogarah I will teach on the 7 festivals in more detail, focusing on how God marks time in fulfilling his covenant promise.