True celebration

That is, from the blowing of the shofar on the Jewish New Year, these days are designed to awaken us to spiritual realities and cause us to reflect more earnestly on our lives.

Shofar blowing 311 (photo credit: Matthias Guggisberg/ICEJ)
Shofar blowing 311
(photo credit: Matthias Guggisberg/ICEJ)
We have just celebrated some of the most meaningful and thought-provoking biblical feasts in Israel, namely Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Sukkot. One could write volumes about these celebrations, and indeed many have, so I will not add to this commentary, except to say that such cycles of celebration, remembrance and worship should and must be more than pleasant traditions. Because they come every year, it is possible to regard the liturgy and practices of these holy days as nothing more than cultural or family events or traditions. More is required from us!
That is, from the blowing of the shofar on the Jewish New Year, these days are designed to awaken us to spiritual realities and cause us to reflect more earnestly on our lives, examining our relationship with God first, and then with our fellow human beings. Life is too short not to do this, and in the end we will all have to meet our Creator.
The Apostle Paul, writing to the Romans, said we will each have to stand before the Judgment Seat of Heaven. There is, and will be, no way around this. This expectation is sure, and we will each give an account for “the things done in the body.” Those who disregard this destiny are reckless. The Psalmist wrote: “The fool says in his heart that there is no God.” Our world is filled with ‘fools,’ and these can also include people who believe in God but do not take His word seriously. In such cases, they have made themselves even greater fools!
So, as we think upon the means of attaining grace that our loving Heavenly Father has given us in terms of annual celebrations, calls to repentance, fasting and joyous celebrations of His kingdom, let us not see them as opportunities to plan our next “getaway.” This is not what these days are given to us for. No, they should be times for “stock taking,” which, if properly appropriated, will affect our lives more than any vacation on some beach.
The spiritual parts of our lives are far more important than the physical parts. We are essentially spiritual beings, with emotions, feelings and personalities that differ. To neglect the most important part of our lives is to commit spiritual suicide, and many do it. Healthy spirits produce healthy bodies.
Again, Paul put it this way: “For bodily exercise profits little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of life that now is and of that which is to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8)
This is why Paul, and other biblical figures, endeavored to walk through life with a clear conscience before God and man. They took times of celebration and reflection seriously, and ordered their lives accordingly. We only have one life to live; it passes like a breath of wind, and then we are gone. Will our legacy live on in time and eternity? This is the real question that should occupy our hearts as we share in the Feasts of the Lord and the days of remembrance that He has given us.
We may have squandered opportunities like this in the past. Someone once wrote that time is like a man rushing toward you with a tuft of hair on his forehead but bald everywhere else; you have to grab him as he approaches, because once he passes, you can’t!
New festivals are approaching, and we should all be looking for that tuft of hair!
Rev. Hedding is executive director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem;