The Pew was always meant to be a view of the gospel from a layman’s perspective. Taking God’s word from the pages of our bible to the pages of our lives, a difficult process in today’s world. Sometimes, we need to step outside the Pew and experience others views, customs and beliefs. This blog is another of those “Paul Harvey” moments….”The Rest Of The Story”
Almost everyone knows the history of our Thanksgiving and the customs that have developed over the years around it. Most of us see Thanksgiving as an American holiday. It would be safe to say that over the years it has evolved from not being a religious holiday to one of some religious inclusions. Advent and the soon to be birth of Christ are in the heart of every Christian during this special time of the year. Friends, family, food and gifts sometimes overwhelms the “Greatest Gift” but somewhere amidst all this secular bravo there is the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ and the Angels on high raise their voices in celebration, somehow managing to rise above the spirited verses of “We wish you a Merry Christmas”. We will write more about that in another blog. Right now, back to Thanksgiving.
Let me introduce you to “The Rest Of The Story”. May I present Sukkot. While wandering around outside the pew I came across a wonderful article by Tori Avey that is not only interesting but sorta makes the point we are not as different as we would like to believe. Sukkot is also known as the Feast of Tabernacles, a Jewish holiday. It finds its origin in a Biblical Mandate, which we can find in Leviticus 23:29 – 23:43.
39 “‘So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to the Lord for seven days; the first day is a day of sabbath rest, and the eighth day also is a day of sabbath rest. 40 On the first day you are to take branches from luxuriant trees—from palms, willows and other leafy trees—and rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. 41 Celebrate this as a festival to the Lord for seven days each year. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come; celebrate it in the seventh month. 42 Live in temporary shelters for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in such shelters 43 so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in temporary shelters when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.’”
Here are two paragraphs from the article:
“Sukkot is a harvest holiday, which means that the foods served are seasonal in nature. The Sukkot menu generally features vegetables and fruits that are harvested at the turn of the season—apples, squash, eggplants, grapes, etc. As a food lover, this holiday is one of my favorites because we are encouraged to create dishes from fresh and delicious seasonal ingredients. The arrival of Sukkot ushers in the autumn season; Sukkot foods are inspired by the bounty of the harvest.
Does this all sound a little familiar? You might have noticed that the Sukkot holiday resembles the American tradition of Thanksgiving. Believe it or not, the similarities between Sukkot and Thanksgiving actually have a historical frame of reference. Before coming to the New World, the Pilgrims lived for a short time among Sephardic Jews in Holland. In fact, our American Thanksgiving tradition may have been indirectly inspired by the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.”
There is a lot more to this story and I encourage you to go to the above link. The Jews and the Pilgrims both were victims of religious persecution. You won’t be disappointed, click on the link above.
It is also interesting to note that….“In 1868, in response to a proclamation to celebrate Thanksgiving issued by Pennsylvania Governor John W. Geary that was viewed as “apparently intended to exclude Israelites” from the celebration, Philadelphia’s rabbis condemned the encroachment on the freedom of religion and expressed the sentiment that national holidays should be devoid of religious content.” (American Jewish Historical Society; Chabad; Wikipedia)
It seems we have been at this PC thing for quite some time after all. Let’s keep this simple. The God we serve created all we have, everything and to him belongs the glory. We can call it Thanksgiving, Sukkot or whatever you are comfortable with. The fact is it is a time of giving thanks to God for the bountiful harvest of his creation. That may not have been the original intent but it is right and just that we do just that.
We will be visiting family in the coming week, we will not publish next week.
Give Thanks in all things……Life is Good