Keeping the Feasts

Shabbat

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.

Our Shalom Summer

Late spring and early summer proved to be a bit busy for our family. My husband and I were involved in a Sunday evening marriage enrichment course and a Thursday evening discipleship study — long nights for two little boys, lots of homework for Mommy and Daddy, and about twelve weeks of being stretched thinner than usual. Both courses greatly enriched our lives, and we came away from the experiences with a bevy of new friends. Win-win! We were also ready for a break…which led to our laid-back, Shalom-style summer. Lots of rest and peace for this family!

In the weeks since, we’ve kind of sheltered-in-place at home. I’ve been planning and prepping for homeschooling, spending more time in the kitchen, and allowing my mind and heart space to breathe. Nearly two months ago, I permanently deleted my Facebook account…and it has made a world of difference! Motherhood is my current mission and ministry, and I needed to prune away distractions for my own sanity. Over the past several weeks, a handful of people have asked me when I’m coming back to Facebook; I’m so relieved to say, “Never!”

This time has also allowed me to finalize our core values and family mission. Our core values came about when I was listening to a Wild+Free homeschooling podcast. Our goal for homeschooling is to create disciples and life-long learners who marvel at the world and how it works — I chose our core values based on the goals we want to achieve as a family, and the lifestyle I want our children to value. The idea for our family mission was born out of our discipleship group; I got the idea when we were talking about how our lives fit into God’s story, and how he is the author and perfecter of each of our stories. Hopefully, it will keep us mindful of our purpose.

  

The boys and I have started making sourdough bread — they make wonderful messes while learning about fermentation and feeding the starter. Keane is a big fan of burying his hands in the einkorn flour, than flapping his arms like a bird. This has proved to be a patience-building exercise for Mommy! My goal is to stop buying pre-made foods; I want them to value what goes into their bodies and appreciate the baking process. They eat their sourdough bread with almond butter (not yet homemade) and jelly (with dewberries and grapes they helped handpick). Next on the homemaking to-do list: homemade kvass with the leftover bread crusts, and then homemade cocoa almond butter. I’ll attempt these next kitchen adventures in a few weeks…baby steps!

As a former teacher, I’ve no doubt over-prepared for our inaugural homeschooling year. My main struggles will most likely be consistency and balance (things I struggle with in my personal life, as well). Although, I do have the benefit of Asher’s ultra-consistent personality and his passionate tenacity to learn. He’ll keep me on track…probably more than I’d like! I’m so excited to share the adventures of education with my children. It is an honor that God is allowing me to speak truth into their lives, and I do not take this journey lightly.

With the dawn of each new day, I attempt to implement spaces of Sabbath margin. If my heart and mind are intentionally focused on restful Shalom, I find that I’m more patient and peaceful with my family. I’ve traded the fancy brewing machine for a whistling kettle and teapot; I light candles to create a mellow atmosphere; we listen to music throughout the day instead of allowing the TV to be our constant soundtrack. I also scaled back my photography endeavors, which leaves more time at home with my family. Small things tend to make a world of difference in my home. My days have become a beautiful blend of delicious tea, intoxicating candles, calming essential oils, Andrew Peterson, J.J. Heller, Jill Phillips, and Andy Gullahorn. I lack the time and money for spa days and weekend getaways…but I do have the ability to craft a peaceful home.

Along with scripture, I’m working my way through several books by some of my favorite authors: Sally Clarkson, L.R. Knost, and S.D. Smith. Filling my mind and heart with beautiful words written by inspired authors keeps me focused on truth, goodness, and beauty. It’s those very elements that I long to instill in my children. Of course we still endure some crazy, chaotic days, but the foundations of Sabbath and Shalom keep me grounded in the midst of it all.