This season is a time of joy for many, a time of sorrow for some, and a time to reflect on the passing of another year. The simple saying, “Home is where the heart is” has become a cliché, and bittersweet for those whose home life growing up was marred by family breakups or worse. But still it evokes for many of us memories of when life made sense, or the hope that maybe our lives can yet make sense for others.
For us as a people, these months are just part of winter in the northern hemisphere and summer in the southern. The ancient Roman holidays and traditions adapted by Christianity, Christmas and New Years with its resolutions, do not hold sway over our hearts. We have realized that Israel did – and does have – traditions, holidays, and customs. The ancient abandonment of them pained some Christians then, so long ago, before their very memory was forgotten. It is always in the time of transition that the contrast between two worlds, two paradigms, is most clearly revealed.
One of those early church fathers, Tertullian, had this to say about the changing church in A.D. 197.
To we Christians nowadays, the Sabbaths are strange, and the new moons and festivals are just a memory of what was formerly beloved by God. But alas, we frequent the Saturnalia and New-Year’s and Midwinter’s festivals and Matronalia. Presents come and go — New-Year’s gifts — games join their noise — banquets join their din! We do everything that the nations do. Alas, they are more faithful to their own sect than we to ours. They would not have participated in the Lord’s day, nor Pentecost, even if they were invited, for they would be afraid of appearing to be Christians. But we are not the least bit worried about appearing to be heathens!1
So we have the unusual experience in our businesses and delis of being open on the world’s holidays and closed on the high festivals of Israel. It is both our customer’s and our own experience of an emerging, new culture, as we travel what is really “uncharted wilderness”—groping to hear from our Father, through one another, just what is the spiritual significance of these splendid festivals of Israel.
From the Communities in Germany
We give honor to beleaguered brothers first, along with their wives and youth. Here they are setting up their sukkah (individual ones) to celebrate Sukkot—the Feast of Booths.
After the days of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and a celebration on the eve of Sukkot, we gathered in the morning to hear from our Father. There was excitement in the air, espe-
cially after seeing the beautiful fire pit and place that the young men had prepared for our festival. Tamiym read Lev 23:42 –
You shall dwell in booths for seven days. ALL who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am YHWH your God.
Our Father took us out of Egypt and now is taking Egypt out of us. Tamiym said that he was past the age of looking for adventure in camping outside, he just wanted to be obedient.
Disciples began to share how our Father’s commands and our obedience get us out of the boxes we have ourselves in. Even if it rains, it is the perfect weather. All the material things we think we have, Sukkot reminds us that we don’t have them but only what we build between each other. When we are out of our comfortable and secure structures, all
we have is our Father’s kindness as we experience it from one another. And then you believe in God!
If we don’t trust in our own strength, but trust our Father by trusting one another, it is healing to our bones. This year ALL the disciples made sukkot, and the more skilled, of course, at building with such simple materials, helped those more befuddled by the process. Then we all enjoyed the fellowship of our obedience to His word around our camp fire.
From the Communities in Australia
The eighth day of the feast, Shemini Atzeret, is a festive, joyful day for us with our families. On it we remember that eternal life awaits all His faithful ones.
Finally, the last great day of the feast arrived, and together as a tribe we gathered at our beautiful Peppercorn Creek Farm. It was an amazing day, full of vision and teaching, activities, food, skits and an obstacle course. Many guests came to enter into our joy with us in this celebration of the eternity that is to come for all who overcame, both the Holy and the nations. We were thankful to express something of our Father’s heart to all who were with us.
Lastly, from the Communities in France
Rain was pouring down the very first day of building our sukkot, but we kept our smiles and
encouragement. We don’t do it for fun anyway, but to please our Abba. Plastic covers were a must, and our new abodes ended up being very comfortable, sometimes sealed with haystacks, carpets on the floor, hammocks, bunk beds made out of bamboos and linen… No way to complain or grump. Moreover, the weather stayed warm and dry afterwards.
We heard that our goal is to fully reach Acts 2:44, the condition of the first Edah when it
first started, point zero. The pure faith they had received caused them to be together with one heart and one mind, being of one accord, sharing everything in common. Alas, they crashed at the end of the first century and became something unrecognizable nowadays.
We are one of the last generations and cannot afford to camp, but must keep on climbing up to their undefiled level, that is point zero, to start with. We are called to overcome all hindrances to be qualified for the race2 and bring an end to this evil age. The world would become damaged beyond hope with all kinds of perversions under the sun, if it weren’t for the awesome mercy of our God who has been and is always mindful of man.
We hope you have enjoyed this small glimpse of Sukkot in our tribes, in our people’s own words. Please come and visit any time.
Kevin Carlin, for the Communities of the Twelve Tribes