The worthiness holidays
Booths/Sukkot, All Saints Day, Thanksgiving Day
In the SYNC annual cycle, holidays all fit into the big picture of the biblical story, and they follow the Genesis to Revelation sequence from January through December. This makes all our current celebrations more meaningful, and, even more importantly, it gives us some great reasons for additional annual parties.
SYNC calls us to at least one annual party for each season--Life, Roots, Freedom, etc. Some seasons include more than one holiday event, giving us multiple opportunities.
Each SYNC holiday party is a celebration of the biblical event that gives us that seasonal gift. For example, on the New Year's Day holiday, we celebrate the event of God's creation of the world, which gives us life.
SYNC holidays use the traditional Christian, Jewish, or secular name for the holiday and they often are tied to its traditional meaning. The few exceptions will become obvious as we go through the year.
Worth Season has two holidays, or three if you add an American holiday, Thanksgiving.
Partying in Worth Season
In 2023, Worth Season is September 26 - November 25. It is sandwiched between the holiday that concludes Mercy Season (the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, September 25) and the holiday that opens Vision Season (Christ the King Sunday, which looks forward to the Christ's return in glory, November 26).
Worth Season includes both the week of the "Roughing it Festival," a.k.a. the "Feast of Tabernacles" ("Sukkot" in Hebrew) and Halloween-All Saints Day (originally "All Martyrs Day"), October 31 - November 1.
The "Roughing it" Festival (Sukkot, or Feast of Booths/Huts)
September 30 - October 6, 2023
The Jewish festival of Sukkot involves a week of roughing it, living in makeshift booths, huts, or shelters as reminders of the journey the Israelites made from Egypt to the Promised Land. Tradition says that the roofs have to be made from branches cut from trees, and the sky has to be visible through the roof somewhere.
The point of a flimsy shelter is clear. “We should not have survived that ancient journey under those awful conditions, but by the grace of God we did! And we are still here! Praise God!” The God of Israel wants to be remembered and honored as the God who takes his people places and who gets them there even if the journey seems impossible.
In spite of the hardship, there is nothing glum about the "Roughing it" Festival. In fact, to this day Jews celebrate it as a feast of unbelievable joy. Their focus is not on how uncomfortable life is in a makeshift shelter. It is on how reliable God is to help us survive and how much he blesses us once the journey is over.
A prayer of welcome for the "Roughing it" Festival
Lord Jesus, you are the Messiah worth dying for. We will welcome you here every day until you welcome us there in the land you have promised.
An affirmation for the "Roughing it" Festival
The cross of Jesus the Messiah can get us through any difficulty.
Halloween and All Saints Day, a.k.a. All Martyrs Day,
October 31-November 1, 2023
Halloween, the evening before All Saints Day, is one of the two ancient Christian festivals that have become twisted and corrupted beyond all recognition. The other is Mardi Gras, the day before Lent begins.
To restore Halloween to its rightful place in our annual calendar of worship, a short history lesson is needed--the story behind "All Saints Day."
In the earliest centuries the church celebrated a memorial day on each anniversary of the martyrdom of a prominent church leader such as Stephen (Acts 7, celebrated on December 26th). As martyrdom increased, the calendar got too full. Not wanting all these newer, lesser martyrs to be totally forgotten, the Church added a new holy day for all of them together.
In English we know this as All Saints Day but the label, “All Martyrs Day,” would give us a clearer picture of the original meaning. It is the spiritual equivalent of holidays that honor soldiers who died fighting for their countries.
The eve before such a day would naturally be a holy time (Hallow-eve), a somber time of remembrance and reflection on the courage and sacrifice of so many. Instead it has become demon, ghost, and zombie night. Even if the scary costumes are replaced by Disney princess outfits and superhero costumes, the memory of the martyrs is still totally forgotten.
Halloween and All Saints Day are great times to refocus on people who carried their crosses, people who were loyal to their mission and gave their lives for it. Hebrews 11.35-40 reminds us of many ancient heroes of the faith. Web sites like Voice of the Martyrs and IDOP (International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church) remind us of modern ones.
American Thanksgiving Day, November 23, 2023
In America, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day are the two biggest days for family gatherings with a huge feast. Thanksgiving Day, the fourth Thursday of November, falls on the SYNC Calendar either near the end of Worth Season as in 2023 or near the beginning of Vision Season (long story about calendars).
Either way, the feast celebrates that our attention is turning from present attacks and suffering to future feasting with our victorious Messiah, Jesus. In his mercy he judged us worthy of an invitation to his banquet, though he owed us absolutely nothing.
With his invitation in hand and our name on it, we will pay no attention to anyone who tries to cast doubt on our worth. But neither will we fight them. We don't want to mess up our banquet clothes.