Are you keeping the Feast at home this year? Are you having some trouble thinking of ways to rejoice and make it special? It can be a challenge to overcome obstacles in our daily life and make room for joy, but with some inspiration and preparation, your Feast at home can be joyous, fun and restorative. Here are some ideas to get you started!
Get out of your routine
While your friends and family are packing and preparing to travel for the Feast, don’t get glum thinking about staying in your own routine. Little changes, like doing your shopping at the grocery store you can’t normally afford, or using your good dishes (or using paper plates so there are no dishes to wash!), can help to change things up. Take some time before the Feast to think about little changes that can bring you joy.
• Set up a tent or make a play fort in the living room for your kids, talk about a Tabernacle and what it represents. Decorate with paper chains, photos that remind you of the meaning of the Feast, paper flowers, or string lights.
• Make a list of recipes or restaurants you’ve been excited to try. If you are homebound, ask your friends for recommendations for great delivery places in your area.
• Use your second tithe to set up some remote services such as meal kit delivery, laundry pickup or home cleaning services to give yourself a few more minutes in the day to rejoice, study the Bible or rest! These services can be surprisingly low in cost, depending on your location and needs.'
• Buy fresh flowers. I love to do this at the Feast, to remind myself of how the Israelites made a tabernacle of branches and leaves. As the Feast goes on and the flowers change, it is a beautiful reminder of God’s plan.
• Be a tourist in your own city. If you are able to travel within your own community, why not gather up some fliers of parks, museums, natural wonders or historic buildings?
• Send postcards from your hometown to your brethren! It might be silly, but silly is fun!
I know some like gifts more than others, but for me, giving gifts is one of my favorite ways to make the Feast feel special and joyous. A gift does not have to be expensive, just thoughtful. Let yourself think about gifts for others and gifts for yourself.
• For children, you could either purchase a large toy that can be enjoyed throughout the Feast (open-ended gifts such as make-believe toys or art supplies usually retain their "glow" a little longer than the newest trendy cartoon character), or even smaller toys or treats to be opened on every day of the Feast.
• For children in your congregation, think beyond toys and candies. Things like art supplies, books, journaling supplies, card-making supplies or tickets to a fun venue are appropriate for children of all ages.
• Maybe this is the year your child could have a Bible of their own! (I just found out there is an “International Children’s Bible” translation!)
• Shopping on the Internet makes sending gifts a breeze. We have even been able to send them to friends at their hotel during the Feast! You would need to compile some addresses before your friends leave for the Feast, and be aware that room numbers and such may change upon their arrival to their Festival location.
• How could you upgrade your church “kit?” Would a new device allow your webcast viewing to be simpler? Headphones to hear special music more clearly? Something as little as a new notebook and a pack of your favorite pens can be a simple joy.
Connect with others
Fellowship might be challenging to incorporate into your Feast at home plan. Think ahead of little ways to strengthen your relationships.
• Use social media such as Facebook and Instagram to connect with others at the Feast. The UCG Feast at home community will have links to the relevant sites! And of course, don’t forget to tune into the webcast each day during the Feast for church services!
• Make cards, write letters, send postcards, bake cookies or share whatever your gifts and talents may be.
• Be a light to your community! Why not make “Happy Feast of Tabernacles” cards or gift baskets for those friends, neighbors, mailmen, secretaries, nurses or others close to you in your life. They will appreciate your thoughtfulness, and, who knows, they may have been wanting to ask you more about the Feast anyway!
Make time for quiet
Just like Jesus made time to retreat from the world and connect with God, we too should withdraw from the busy-ness of life to connect with our Father.
• Set some goals for your Bible study, perhaps a topic that keeps coming up in your life, or trying a new method you haven’t tried before. Have you tried a “One Word” study, where you focus on one word for a whole year? Have you heard of Bible art journaling? Have you used an audio Bible? Look around the Internet for ideas that appeal to you!
• Start a prayer journal. One of my goals is to start my day with writing my prayers in a journal. On the days that I make time for it, my whole day is so much more peaceful!
• Take some time to sit outside and enjoy nature. There is nothing like fresh air and the sounds of nature to help us calm and center our minds.
• Listen to spiritual music, not just in the background, but when you have time to really focus your mind on listening. Whatever genre of music appeals to you, there are bound to be pieces you have not heard before. Or perhaps listening this way to your favorite song might let you hear it in a whole new way.
Ask for help
• If you are staying home because of health or mobility issues, ask for help within your support system to get some special things together in advance.'
• Talk to your pastor about your needs and concerns in advance of the Feast.
• Stay connected with the Feast at home online community, and let us know what events or resources you would like us to work on for next year!