Giving Thanks for Our Many BlessingsOctober 1, 2020 - 12:00 am
“Celebrate the Festival of Harvest with the first fruits of the crops you sow in your field. Celebrate the Festival of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the field.” — Exodus 23:16
At sundown Friday, Oct. 2 through Oct. 9, my family and I will join Jews around the world in celebrating Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles. Please enjoy these devotions centred on this joyous holiday that immediately follows the High Holy Days.
Growing up in America, Thanksgiving was one of my favourite holidays. For one thing, it was the one holiday that Jews, Christians, and all kinds of Americans celebrated together. In addition, I loved the themes of autumn, pumpkins, coziness, and most of all, the tradition of giving thanks for our many blessings.
Now that I live in Israel, I no longer attend large family Thanksgiving dinners. But in truth, the holiday of Sukkot, which I will celebrate with my entire country beginning at sundown tomorrow, underscores the same values that I found so inspiring during the Thanksgivings of my childhood.
Another name for the holiday of Sukkot is the Festival of Ingathering because, like Thanksgiving, it takes place during the harvest season. Autumn is traditionally a time to celebrate our blessings, as we harvest the fruits of our labour. On Sukkot, we not only thank God for our blessings, but also realign our perspective so that we realize just how abundantly blessed we really are.
All year long, our lives are filled with so many possessions and a constant drive to attain even more. But on Sukkot, we move outside and live in temporary shelters with just the basics — a table, chairs, and beds. We spend the week enjoying family, friends, and good food. We make music, play games, and study the Bible. For that one week, we don’t have a lot, but we have everything that really matters.
On Sukkot, we live simply — but oh so very richly. We remember that we don’t need a lot of stuff to be happy in life, and we recognize that God has indeed blessed us generously.
Real abundance isn’t about having more. It’s about appreciating what we already have. It’s about feeling blessed by the sunshine on our face and feeling nourished by a cool glass of water. It’s about enjoying the food that we eat and appreciating the people that we are lucky enough to have in our lives.
Sukkot is a time to recognize that what we already have is more than enough. And once we appreciate how greatly we have been blessed, we can express our thanks to God with a truly grateful heart.
Your turn: What is your heart grateful for today? Share in the comments section below!