THIS SERIES: LET’S SLOW DOWN & CELEBRATE AUTUMN
My apologies: another post which has published before time for some reason! This post was scheduled for October 13th. The next one is due October 20th.
True festival is God’s gift to his people. Whether it is the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles just gone, the upcoming Thanksgiving celebrated in North America, or the Christmas festivities on the horizon, each festival is an invitation from the Father to celebrate His goodness.
True festival comes out of rest—rest in the total provision of the Father, and comes from a place of interior quiet—from a place of knowing who we are, where we are going, and that our every need has been met in Jesus.
God gave the Feast of Tabernacles (see previous posts) to Israel as a joy-filled celebration of the His great provision for His people; it was to be the celebration of a community at rest, a people who had entered into their promised land and received from the hand of God.
Seeing the Father’s provision is the foundation stone for all real festival, for we worship a God who has provided for our every need—especially through Jesus Christ. And the extent to which our festivals are full, or empty is dependent on the extent of our revelation of His goodness—something to bear in mind in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas.
LIVING AS BELOVED CHILDREN
We are all familiar with the story of the prodigal son [Luke 15], but often miss the character of the elder brother. When the younger man asked for his inheritance, the father did not object, but gave to both his sons liberally. The Greek phrasing apparently suggests that he distributed not just his property but all his resources—and probably, in keeping with the custom of the times, giving the older brother a double portion.
This brother was labouring in the fields on the prodigal’s return, and wasn’t amused to hear the sound of festival. He refused to go in and join the celebration, his angry resentment spilling out to his father. ‘I’ve been slaving for you for years (literally ‘been your bond-slave’) and haven’t even received even a young goat to party with my friends!’
Meanwhile, the elder son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. “Your brother has come,” he replied, “and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.”
‘The elder brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, “Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!”
“My son,” the father said, “you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”
Let’s just think through this…
What a response! What a tragedy! How could he level such an accusation? This young man already had received his inheritance—as a free gift! Everything his father had was his—the fattened calves, goats—everything. He already had the means to party. But instead of delighting in the good of an inheritance freely given, he saw his life as one of joyless slavery to his father. He was complaining because his father had not enabled him to ’party’, when the problem was that he had not received his father’s provision. He had not come into the benefits of sonship and so was not able to celebrate. He was rich but living poor, full but living empty, beloved but living alienated, blessed but living constrained. And the greatest impoverishment was that he did not know and enjoy his father’s abiding presence.
This parable should give us pause for thought…
Are we living as beloved sons and daughters of the King of Kings? Have we received the amazing inheritance Jesus paid such a terrible price to purchase for us? Are we living in the good of it, or have we stashed it away as a future insurance policy? And are we living in the abiding presence of the Father who loves passionately?
Let’s do it now, before the festive rush is on us, so we can look forward to the festivals ahead and make them joy-filled celebrations of His wonderful provision. Let’s plan for parties to really celebrate, and let’s ask Him to fill them all with His presence!
See the webpage SPIRIT-LED CELEBRATION: THE RHYTHM OF FESTIVAL for more on this topic.
NEXT WEEK: STOP AND SAVOUR THE SEASON
Our lives are filled with little grace-gifts from our Heavenly Father, if we only take time to notice...
MY AUTUMN GIFT FOR YOU (LAST FEW DAYS...)
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