I am writing to you today from under the sukkah. About three years ago, I decided I wanted my own sukkah; I wanted to experience the joy of this season. Believe it or not, it really has added to my joy. You see, I love the Christmas holiday. I love the reason for the season –the birth of the Messiah. I love the family time, I love the decorating, and I love the memories. But the reality is, Christmas is not the time of Yeshua’s birth, Sukkot is. So why wasn’t I celebrating the true time of his birth, the time he came and ‘tabernacled’ with us?
Now don’t get me wrong, if you celebrate Christmas, I am not standing in judgement. In fact, all my kids still celebrate the holiday, and being their mother, I am usually at one of their homes, so in reality I am still celebrating.
Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. For me, most of the joy of the season is the memories. With six kids – the oldest of which just turned 40 – tree decorating is a walk down memory lane. That was the hardest to give up, the time to reminisce about when they were little and we gathered to decorate the tree, or had all the family over for dinner. But once I decided to forgo the Christmas holiday, the Lord revealed to me that Sukkot is the time to celebrate, the time to build memories, the time to experience the joy of Messiah tabernacling with His people. Therefore, my desire to build my own sukkah intensified.
Three years ago, I designed and built my own sukkah. As I did so, the joy that filled my heart was the same joy I experienced when pulling out all the old Christmas decorations. I saw that there was decorating, inviting family and friends over, building memories and celebrating the birth of our Savior. Yet, it is on a grander scale!
This year was especially meaningful for me – three of my sons came over for dinner one night, and my mom on another. And though this year has been quite rainy, our Connections group was able to celebrate Sabbath under the sukkah. On all three nights, the Lord provided for excellent weather.
Now, each year during Christmas, I followed in the tradition of my paternal grandfather and built a Christmas village with the manger at its apex. Two of my sons follow this same tradition. In fact, my oldest fills two rooms of his home with the village! (‘I wonder where he gets that desire to over-do?’ said the pot calling the kettle black.)
For the last two years, I’ve wanted to pull out all my village houses, but haven’t had the time with what is turning into my annual trip to Israel. But perhaps next year.
In the meantime, family and friends have come under the sukkah, added their own decorations, or simply their own presence that will linger from year to year as I pull out decorations and put together (as one friend called it) ‘my little house’.
Friends, I have found the joy of the season of sukkot. For the Jews, it is a reminder of their precious time together with the Lord in the wilderness. He was there with them, every day, for 40 years. For followers of Messiah, whether Jew or Gentile, it is a reminder that Messiah came and dwelt in a temporary booth (his physical body) to rescue us from slavery to sin and death. It is a time to build memories that our children and grandchildren will carry in their hearts (should the Lord tarry) remembering each year, for seven days, how we celebrate God’s desire to live with His people, and look forward to the day of His coming.