Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People

Letter From Lewis VanAusdle - October 16, 2020

Letter From Lewis VanAusdle

October 16, 2020

17th October 2020

Our Dear Brethren,

We have been home from our travels to Pennsylvania to keep God's Feast of Tabernacles for nearly a week now. For those among us who weren't able to travel for this Feast you might be very excited to see your brethren again. For many this past week meant getting back to work and again looking forward to the weekly Sabbath rest. I think for me personally the past week has been a combination of things, a mixture of memories and feelings about the Feast, and a mixture of thoughts and feelings about returning home afterwards.

The week of the Feast can be tiring for all of us. We have eight days of straight serving and fellowshipping from the time the sun comes up until long after the sun goes down, but we cannot complain since that is what God has called us to do in life. The Feast of Tabernacles, no matter how much of a break from reality and a break from work it is for all of us, is no exception to the simple calling to serve and to fellowship. Many hands make the work of God light and easy and enjoyable for everyone involved. I had the chance to see many brethren, from both near and far, jump in and serve each and every day during the Feast this year. It truly makes me proud of my brethren to see them serving one another. I thank all of you who were able and willing to serve in any capacity in the places you kept this Feast.

For me the Feast of Tabernacles has always meant family time. Even when my family members are far away, God has always provided brethren to be my family. That is if I am willing to be family to them as well. We have committed ourselves to this family that God is creating. Families go through difficult times together, sometimes caused by our own selfishness and pride. But when we are willing to put aside our own selves and focus on the needs of each other, we can truly be the loving family God has brought us together to be.

"Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery,' 'You shall not murder,' 'You shall not steal,' 'You shall not bear false witness,' 'You shall not covet,' and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law" (Romans 13:8-10).

When I get back from the Feast each year, there is some relief, but also a disheartened feeling. I want to go back in time and experience my time with my brethren again. I want to fast forward to the next year when I can again spend all that focused time with my family (spiritual and physical). I know I can't do either one, but I can focus on preparing for the next Feast. I think I've mentioned to you before that as soon as the Feast is over I'm already thinking of where I will be next year. I think of more than just where I will be, but also how I will be serving, who will be there with me, how I can best prepare myself and my household for that Feast.

Immediately I start saving my second tithe so I can afford to keep the next Feast. I start thinking and praying about potential sermon topics. I begin wondering where my family members will be. I usually ask them. Sometimes they have plans that line up with my own plans. This year I had the pleasure of helping to plan a Feast site which helped me to stay focused on the Feast more closely throughout the year. I know that if I don't prepare (i.e. saving tithe, making plans, encouraging others to make plans themselves) then when the time comes for the Feast, I won't be able to properly rejoice before my God because I won't be ready.

The meaning behind the Feast is of utmost importance in that desire to keep each and every Feast of Tabernacles and the Eighth Day of the Feast (two separate but obviously related Feasts of the Lord). Our God has a grand plan of salvation for all of mankind. He has a plan to show the people of the earth what a world without our enemy, Satan, will be like. He has a plan to show us peace, and give us peace for all eternity. If we keep this plan in mind, and let it drive us forward, then nothing can get in our way, nothing can discourage us, nothing can trample us! "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You" (Isaiah 26:3).

Returning home after the Feast of Tabernacles can be difficult, but it is a reminder that we still live in a temporary place. Eternity hasn't yet begun and there isn't yet peace for this world. The peace begins with us. We must be filled with that peace as we continue forward seeking the fulfillment of the promises God has given us of a kingdom that is His. The promises that the Feast reminds us of.

Seeking the Feast is part of seeking God's kingdom. We are supposed to prepare ourselves to become members of that kingdom and to serve as part of that everlasting kingdom. Let's continue forward, preparing for and planning for the next Feast as part of our own personal seeking of His kingdom first in our lives.

Our love is with you,

Lewis VanAusdle

Pastor, United Church of God

NYC, NJ, CT, Malawi, Zimbabwe