It happens every year, it seems. There are always a certain number of people in God’s Church who, for one reason or another, simply can’t make it to the Feast of Tabernacles, much as they would like to. Perhaps some have made financial mistakes, and simply don’t have enough second tithe saved up. Or they might have lost their job, or perhaps have been unemployed for an extended period, and don’t have enough second tithe for that reason. It might be that their health, or the health of a close relative, might make going to the Feast unwise or even impossible. An example of this would be expectant mothers whose expected delivery date falls very close to the Feast, during the Feast, or just after the Feast. Another possibility would be a family member in the last stages of a terminal illness, especially where a Church member may be that person’s primary or only caregiver. Or there may be other unexpected circumstances beyond one’s control.
Over the years, I’ve been in many of those situations. As a result, I know only too well how lonely, how frustrating, how discouraging it can be to miss going to the Feast. There are ways, however, to “turn lemons into lemonade,” as the old saying goes—in other words, to derive at least some of the spiritual benefit from the Feast of Tabernacles that God intends. Based on my own experience, here are a few tips on how to spend the Feast at home, if, for whatever reason, you can’t go in person:
1. Spend extra time in prayer and Bible study.
The primary reason God gives us His Feast, after all, is to help us to draw closer to Him. Extra time in prayer and Bible study, especially on the first day of the Feast, and the Eighth Day, are especially important. You should also take extra time to meditate on the purpose for God’s annual Holy Days.
2. Watch services on the Internet or listen to recorded sermons.
Modern technology has made it far easier to obtain the kind of spiritual instruction God wants to give us on His annual Holy Days. In many cases, you can watch live Feast services on the Internet . While of course this is not quite the same as being at the Feast in person, webcasts can still impart at least some of the joy God wants us to experience during the Feast. If this is not possible or feasible, then listening to recordings of past sermons , or watching past Feast videos , can still be an important source of instruction and encouragement.
3. Spend time with other home-bound Church members if you can.
This can be accomplished in many ways—a phone call, a personal visit, or, if your circumstances permit, perhaps you can get together with other Church members to watch Feast services on the Internet or at least listen to recorded Feast messages. If nothing else, sending a card or a short note to other Church members who are unable to attend the Feast can provide much-needed encouragement, both for them and for you.
4. Be a light to others around you.
This of course is something we should be doing throughout the year as Christians, but even more so during the Feast days. There are many ways of doing this, even if you have to stay at home during the Feast. A small “Feast gift” to your employers or coworkers—even something as simple as a loaf of home-made bread—may be more of a light than you realize. If you’re in a public place, such as a grocery store or a restaurant, make an extra effort to be kind, patient, friendly, and understanding. If you’re able to go out to eat at a restaurant where tipping is expected, a slightly larger tip than usual, along with a few kind words to those who serve you, can often be a powerful witness. Be sure, however, to ask God’s guidance and direction in any such instance. Even a quick silent prayer while waiting in line can make a big difference!
5. Strive to maintain a positive attitude.
Even though you may have to stay home during the Feast, the right mental attitude can make all the difference. By all means, ask God for help in this regard. Also, the previous steps I’ve outlined, if properly practiced, will of themselves help you to keep your spirits up as they should be during the Feast. Helping and serving others during the Feast can be especially beneficial. Listening to uplifting music can also be helpful. Even dressing up a little bit when you go out can help.
6. Determine now, and begin planning now, to attend the Feast next year if you can possibly do so!
To be sure, there may be extenuating circumstances that may limit you in this regard—age or health, for instance—but, aside from those, you should begin now to look ahead, and plan ahead, seeking counsel if necessary, toward attending next year’s Feast of Tabernacles. The Church festival office staff begins planning for the coming year’s Feast within days of the conclusion of the current year’s Feast, and, I submit, so should we! In many cases, proper advance planning for next year’s Feast will make actually getting to next year’s Feast that much easier. While it will be several months before next year’s festival sites will be announced, you can and should begin striving now to make sure that you can be at next year’s Feast. Seeking advice from your local Feast advisor early on is especially important, and doubly so if you already know of possible problems or limiting factors that you will need to contend with. By far the most important thing you can do, however, is to seek God’s help and guidance so that, if He sees fit, you can be at next year’s Feast of Tabernacles!
Having to stay home during the Feast of Tabernacles isn’t what God wants for us, and it certainly shouldn’t be what we want, but as the old saying goes, “It isn’t the end of the world.” You can still enjoy God’s Feast at home if you ask God for help and make the effort to do so!