Festival Celebrations

Read: Leviticus 23:33-44

I can probably count on one hand and maybe even one finger how many times I have used a text from the book of Leviticus in these midweek meditations.  But last week I ran across a devotional that fit very well with an upcoming church retreat that our congregation has planned.

The devotional was in the Rejoice magazine and was written by Craig Snider.  Here is what he shared about the importance of festivals, camping, retreats, and finding rest from our normal activities and gatherings in life.

“Years ago we were a part of a congregation in Florida. On fairly short notice, we learned that the community center where the church met would be closed for renovations.  So we met together in a local park. While county-league softball
teams played nearby, we arranged picnic tables under trees for Sunday school classes and worshiped in the park’s pavilion.

It was a wonderful five weeks. We learned that we did not need a building, for the earth is the Lord’s and so are we (Psalm 24:1).  During those five weeks, we broke ground for a building we would construct. When our season in the park ended, we talked about celebrating an annual festival of booths to remember our congregation’s history and celebrate God’s provision.

To my knowledge, that never happened. Why not? I suspect it’s for the same reason my family doesn’t go camping more often, and for the same reason that I fail to keep the simple discipline of a walk in the woods with the Lord once a month. It takes work. It’s difficult to disengage from our regular activities.

In today’s Scripture God commands the Israelites to go
camping once a year. Why? Something powerful happens when we
untie ourselves from our familiar places and routines. We see
that we are not the sum total of all our activities. Our
everyday bustle can become a way of claiming our own place in the world. When we live in booths we get back to basics: the Lord is God, the whole earth is the Lord’s, and we are God’s people.”

Craig reminds us of the importance of celebrating our relationships in different ways and in different places from time to time.  It refreshes us, it energizes us, and it’s hard to come back from a retreat like that and not appreciate the way God recharges our Spirit for the days ahead.

Let’s make it a part of our spiritual growth plan to find ways to disconnect from the busy schedules of our weeks and find time to reconnect with Christ, our family, and our church.  In the end we will be glad we did it!

Make it personal:  When is your next time away?  Is the Lord prompting you to put something on your calendar right now?  I hope that you will plan to join us for the AMC weekend retreat at Camp Menno Haven on Sept. 14-15.  If you can only come up for the day (Sunday) there will be a large coach/bus leaving that morning from the church and returning that evening.  Try to make it a weekend and come up on Saturday morning, but at least make it a day and join us on Sunday!

Have a wonderful week everyone,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life, Arthur Mennonite Church