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Every month, every season, we have reasons to celebrate. Weddings, birthdays, graduations, babies, holidays…our lives can be very full.
This was also true in Jesus’ time. From Passover to Purim and the year of Jubilee, the Jewish calendar was filled with feast days, holy days and times of celebration.
While times of celebration can be joy-filled, wonderful memory-making occasions, just as often they are accompanied by meltdowns…..and not just the sugar-high kids.
Moms can get overwhelmed too…
One very special Jewish holiday was The Feast of the Tabernacles. Similar to our modern Thanksgiving, it came at the end of harvest and was a time for thanking God for His blessings and bounty. But unlike our one day of Thanksgiving, this holiday lasted an entire week.
A significant component of this holiday was the booth or “Sukkot” each family would build. Representing the temporary structures used by Moses and the Israelites as they wandered 40 years in the wilderness, families would eat meals and even sleep outside in their shelter gazing up at the stars.
So preparing for this week of thanksgiving meant not only cooking, cleaning and decorating the house, but also building and decorating the Sukkot.
(For a fun diversion put “Sukkot” into the Pinterest search box and see how modern-day Jewish families build and decorate.)
Not only is there a lot to prepare, but this feast comes on the heels of the very serious week of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur – the week of repentance and day of atonement. Only four days separated the two holidays!
It is into this extremely busy environment that we must immerse ourselves as we read the New Testament book of Luke, chapter 10, starting in verse 38. This is the brief story of Martha, Mary and Jesus.
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.
While hospitality was a serious duty, an important part of life during Bible times, Martha, and her siblings Mary and Lazarus, were good friends of Jesus. He stayed with them on more than one occasion.
39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.
A significant part of the Feast of the Tabernacles centered around having guests, spending time with friends and family. Isn’t that what we enjoy most even today during holidays and celebrations? In fact, when the Lord established this particular holiday He commanded them to rejoice for seven days! (Deuteronomy 16:14-15)
So if you were to make a “To Do” list of things to get ready for the Feast of the Tabernacles, the #1 thing on the list would be “Get Happy”.
Even though there was a lot to do, Mary took time to sit and listen, to visit with Jesus.
40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“But Martha was distracted”. Other versions say “cumbered” or “angry”. After all there were only four days to get it all done! The law stated no chores could be done during the week of the feast. She had deadlines!
Do you think Martha sounds joyful?
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,
Jesus didn’t think so either. Let’s see what He says next:
42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Jesus reminded Martha that Mary was doing the right thing. There will always be chores to do, but Jesus was not always going to be visiting with them. It was important to stop, to be still, and listen to Jesus.
I know I am guilty of being Martha. A lot. I have on more than one occasion told my husband “no” when he wanted to have people over. It was too overwhelming to think of all the cooking and cleaning to be done.
I actually told one of my friends that I couldn’t have her over because I knew how pretty her house was and how scrupulous of a housecleaner she was.
I was being Martha. Upset, distracted, cumbered.
When I did this lesson with my Sunday School class we made a Citrus Mint Punch together. (the recipe is in the free lesson download. See the link at the end.) Then we laid out sandwich meat, cheese, mayo, mustard and slices of a simple homemade bread. The kids made their own sandwiches and we sat down to an indoor picnic.
We had tacked some palm fronds and Christmas lights to the ceiling so we turned out the lights and pretended we were outdoors in our Sukkot looking up at the stars. The kids felt like it was a special feast!
I guess I need to take a lesson from my Sunday School kids. The meal doesn’t have to be fancy and the decorations don’t have to be expensive. When we are joyful even a simple meal is a feast when shared with friends.
Proverbs 15:17 Better a small serving of vegetables with love
than a fattened calf with hatred.
I’d love to hear from you about what you do when you get overwhelmed. How do you show hospitality? Please join in the conversation by leaving a comment!
The people at Ultimate Bundles have a bundle of resources for most every “Martha” in this year’s Ultimate Homemaking Bundle. I’m excited about the e-course from Cozy Minimalist and the Tiny Owl Guide to Hospitality. There are also 14 e-cookbooks including one just for company. There’s even a whole section devoted to holidays and celebrations.
The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle sale ends in just a week. So click here to check it out!
If you’d like to download a version of this lesson to do with your own kids click the link below.
Feast-of-the-Tabernacles mustard seed cafe
Leave a comment telling me how your kids enjoyed their special feast!