Sabbath / Shabbat
Passover / Pesach
Unleavened Bread / Hag HaMatzot
Firstfruits / Reishit
Pentecost / Shavuot
Trumpets / Rosh HaShanah
Day of Atonement / Yom Kippur
Tabernacles / Sukkot
Feast of Dedication / Hanukkah
Feast of Lots / Purim
One of my favorite parts of our family’s life rhythm includes keeping the biblical feasts. I’m often met with raised eyebrows when people hear that we celebrate weekly Shabbat dinners, but it’s the most beautiful part of our week! My sons get very excited when Friday rolls around; they know we’ll be enjoying pizza at the Shabbat table — complete with the weekly Torah portion, candles, and prayer sticks (prayer requests written on wood craft sticks). I love watching my husband place his hands on our boys and bless them, my heart melts into a giant puddle as he speaks encouraging words of blessing over their lives. I love hearing my boys recite the blessings, and I love the scriptures that are hidden in their hearts from repeating this weekly rhythm over the years.
Here is a PDF our family’s Shabbat table reading.
When we first began celebrating the appointed feasts, I used A Family Guide to the Biblical Holidays by Robin Sampson and Linda Pierce. I’ve never been one to make copies and do worksheets, so I read through the content and customized it for my family. It is packed with helpful information, steeped in scripture, and an excellent jumping-off point for anyone interested in keeping the feasts. I like Heidi Cooper’s My First Torah when it comes to reading aloud at the Shabbat table.
After we began consistently keeping a grace-filled Messianic Shabbat, we added the spring feasts beginning with Passover, then counted the Omer all the way from Firstfruits to Pentecost. After a summer sabbatical where we try not to sweat to death in Texas, we welcome the autumn season with the Feast of Trumpets — my little men blow those horns with all of their might and we eat apples with honey to rejoice in God’s sweet blessings for the new year. On the Day of Atonement we read the story of Jonah, pray for the day of Israel’s ultimate restoration, and are so grateful that Jesus tore the veil through his ultimate sacrifice.
We began keeping the Feast of Tabernacles/Booths last year, and the boys enjoyed eating dinner in our tent structure on the patio! This provides the perfect opportunity to talk about God’s faithfulness to the Hebrews when they wandered through the desert for forty years — it’s also a fun harvest celebration that reminds us of God’s provision. This feast was traditionally celebrated with ceremonies of water and light, to prophecy the coming of the Messiah. It was during this feast when Jesus said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” The next morning he went on to say, ” I am the light of the world,” (John 7-8) so his statements during this time were immensely profound! Our goal for this year is to set the tent up in the back yard and give it a go…we’ll see.
The Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah!) was actually our first feast to keep, and we’ve been doing that for the past several years. Learning more about this particular feast led me down the wonderful path of keeping Shabbat. If anyone wants a very gentle entry into the biblical feasts, I’d suggest starting with Hanukkah! This is a festival of lights in which we are so beautifully reminded that God is light, and that He is faithful to deliver his people from the oppression of sin and death — as evident through the story of the Macabees. The boys enjoy playing dreidel games and lighting the candles each night. This often overlaps with our Advent season, so our house absolutely glows with light after sundown!
Here is a PDF of our family’s nightly Hanukkah Readings.
The end of winter finds us in the Book of Esther with the Feast of Lots. Purim has been such a fun celebration that reminds us of God’s deliverance. While Esther delivered her people from Haman’s evil plot of certain death, Jesus delivers all who believe from that same irrevocable decree. We attend Gateway’s awesome Purim party, complete with noisy groggers and lots of booing when Haman’s name is read aloud. Tasty treats and dancing into the night make Purim something to look forward to each year!
Our family has been so blessed by keeping these feasts. It helps us have a greater understanding while reading through the Old Testament, and we’re able to see how Jesus came and fulfilled each feast that God appointed. The annual feast cycle constantly reminds us of God’s faithfulness in each season of life, and prepares our hearts to hear his voice.