Deuteronomy 16:1-17:20; Luke 9:7-27; Psalm 72:1-20; Proverbs 12:8-9
I am a celebrator. Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, the first day of Spring – you name it, I like to celebrate it. And I love that God does, too. In today’s passages, we see several instances of God’s party-lovin’.
In Deuteronomy 16, God tells his people to keep the Feast of Weeks – seven weeks after the first harvest, they are to “rejoice before the LORD [their] God” (16:11); just a few verses later, we read about the Feast of Booths, a seven-day period of time when they also “rejoice in feasting” (vs. 14) so that they “will be altogether joyful” (vs. 15b). Did you notice that? Seven days of rejoicing, feasting and being joyful. That sounds like a great party, if I’ve ever heard of one! I’ve thrown some big shin-digs in my day but never one that lasted a whole week! I love the lavish, abundant celebration God plans for his people, “because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands” (vs. 15a).
As we keep reading, we find in our New Testament passage the feeding of the 5,000. We’ve already read an account of this story in both Matthew and Mark, but, reading it again today, I’m once more struck by the hugeness of this miracle. The throngs have been waiting for Jesus and when he comes down from the mountain, they are crowded around, anxious for him to teach and heal them. All day they are with him, listening to him teach about the kingdom of God and seeing him restore health and wellness. As the day comes to an end, the disciples tell him to send the people away to get food. But Jesus wants to bring abundant blessing (a party!) to these people he’s been with all day, and so he takes five loaves of bread and two fish and feeds thousands. Incredible! The text says there were 5,000 men – if each of those men had a wife and even just two kids with them, then Jesus is actually feeding 20,000 hungry people by multiplying two fish and five loaves. If each person eats (modestly) 1/3 of a fish and 1/3 of a loaf, we’re talking about almost 7,000 fish and 7,000 loaves – that’s a lot of fish and bread!! Again, what a demonstration of the abundant and lavish way God provides for his people. And you’d better believe those 20,000 folks were celebrating at an unexpected and miraculous dinner!
What ways does your family celebrate the lavish goodness of God? Do you have a specific time of year where you “rejoice before the LORD your God” and where you spend dedicated time “being altogether joyful?” I’m reminded of our family tradition to spend a week each summer in Mexico, basically partying all week long. My parents rent each family unit a condo right on the water, in a gated community that has two pools, tennis courts and a grassy area for the kids to run and play. (No one is paying me to say this, but if you’re looking for an affordable getaway, can I just recommend Mexico?) Every morning my dad makes an abundant breakfast: pancakes with syrup and whipped cream, or breakfast burritos with 10 different toppings, or waffles with fresh peaches sliced on top. After breakfast each day, we play in the sun, slathering babies in sunscreen and hitting the pool or beach. In the afternoons, we walk from condo to condo, rounding up people for a game of Settlers of Catan or Rook, while we snack on lavish treats like mini Twix bars and fruit roll ups (can I get an amen for vacation snacks?). In the evenings, after a delicious dinner that we take turns cooking, we round everyone up for family activities, like Charades or “Grass Olympics” or kick ball or our now famous Talent Show. If I haven’t convinced you yet, let me just say, it’s a non-stop party. And throughout the whole week, we are reminded of God’s goodness and we consistently take time to thank him for his lavish gifts.
If your family doesn’t have a “Feast of Booths” in place yet, let this year be the year you start. It’s never too late to celebrate what God has done!
- Esther McCurry
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