Sunday, March 24, 2013

Time for a Feast

This evening I had the privilege to hear a presentation by Roy Shcwarcz from Chosen People Ministries on how the gospel is foreshadowed by the seven feasts of Israel in Leviticus 23.  It was a fascinating presentation, and Roy is a gifted and engaging communicator.  I was glad to have been in attendance with 50 or so other Riverview-ers.

During my second to last quarter in seminary, one of my favorite professors had us watch an Israeli movie entitled Ushpizin.  This film details the story of a traditional Jewish couple and the trials and challenges they face as they attempt to celebrate the Feast of Booths.  In reflecting on the film, the professor wanted us students to focus on the role that ritual plays in our lives.  As I reflected on it, I was glad for the small yet significant role that tradition and ritual played in my own life, as I can see quite a bit of value in it, even in regards to training and teaching my children the things of God.  At the same time, however, I was somewhat dismayed that I could only identify a couple of rituals and traditions that my family holds to here and there.  In other words, we're not very ritualistic people (at least not religiously).  As I saw the value of ritual and tradition, I wanted more of it in my life.

There's a lot of value in ritual.  It can help or even force us to think about certain things.  Sometimes this is good, but sometimes it can be bad.  Consider the use of formal liturgies in worship.  Liturgy is good in that it directs our thinking and worship.  But it can also be dangerous in that it can be rote, and performed without any thinking or engagement in the heart.  As a Baptist, the "default switch" of our denomination is to shun most forms of liturgy or even ritual.  Again, I think this has positive and negative aspects.  But as a Baptist who has, for the most part, been starved of ritual for most of his life, I  am intrigued by the prospect of having ritual observances play a more prominent role in my spiritual development, and in the development of my family.

That was then, and this is now, and as I listened to the presentation tonight, delineating the feasts of Israel, I felt a renewed desire to engage in more ritualistic observances.  What would it look like, I wondered, if the feasts of Israel were celebrated in a Christ-centered manner?  In other words, could a Christian celebrate the feasts, but instead of looking forward to Messiah, look backward and celebrate his finished work?  I talked to Roy briefly at the end of the presentation and asked him if such a thing was common among Jewish believers.  He said that yes, indeed it was.  Moreover, he affirmed my thought that celebrating the feasts was a very real and memorable way to extol the work of God in the hearts and minds of children.

All this has got me toying with a seemingly strange idea (at least it's strange to me): I want to try to celebrate the feasts of Leviticus 23.  I might have to wait a while, though, as the "feast season" (as I understand it) begins in the spring, and I don't have enough time to prepare for it this year.  I'd like to do the feasts in order, so I might have to wait until 2014 to begin.

Crazy?  Maybe.  We'll see what happens.

No comments: