By keeping the Feast of Tabernacles we celebrate God's Kingdom in advance. And the joy of God's Kingdom should be present, in type, in our physical families today. In this special section you will learn vital keys to building family harmony for this Feast.
Fine Tune Your Marriage NOW
As husband and wife, resolve to make this Feast a turning point — for the better! In your marriage.
by Richard J Rice
Stop and think: The Feast of Tabernacles pictures God's Kingdom. And God's Kingdom is God's Family — God's children ruling, under Jesus Christ, over this world — and eventually the universe — teaching and administering God's government and laws. God Himself is a Family, as Pastor General Herbert W. Armstrong has explained. Truly called and converted Christians are to be born into the Family of God at the return of Jesus Christ (I John 3:2, I Cor. 15:51-53). When Jesus Christ returns to restore God's government to this earth, He is going to marry God's Church — and the Church must be clean, pure, spotless, ready to unite with Christ in the perfect marriage (Rev. 19:7-9). Now consider this: Can we, who are to wed Christ, allow conflicts, frustrations, selfish motivations to dominate our physical marriages now? No! Now is the time to get our marriages "back on the track" — make them pleasing to God, preparing our physical families for life in God's spiritual Family. The Feast of Tabernacles symbolizes the kind of marriage relationship that should exist in every home in God's Church. It pictures the peace, harmony and close love that Jesus Christ and His Bride will share. Determine now to make this coming Feast a turning point in your marriage relationship. Make this your happiest Feast ever.
Where to start
Even though the Feast is only weeks away, you still have time to embark on a program to set your marriage in order. Plan for a Feast that will bring you as husband and wife closer together. Study and apply the admonitions in Ephesians 5:21-28. Begin to iron out the wrinkles in your marriage — fine tune your marriage, so to speak — committing your plans to God in prayer. Ask God to help you appreciate, in a new way, the partner He has given you — to reawaken the love you and your husband or wife had for each other when you married. Reminisce on your courting days, honeymoon and first few months of marriage. Seek to rekindle the excitement you had for each other then. Talk out differences or irritations. Pinpoint the areas that have caused the most trouble and that will likely rise again. Listen carefully while your mate is speaking in order to understand his or her point of view, including the sore spots. Determine to change. Ask God to help you through the power of His Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5, Eph. 3:16, 20). As you start drawing closer as a couple, resolve to continue to do so throughout the Feast season. Bring your children into the picture — get them involved in your plans. Engage in formal as well as informal family discussions. You can have special Bible studies on the purpose and meaning of the Feast of Tabernacles, explaining to your children why we travel to another place, why we stay in temporary accommodations. Your whole family can pray for the success and safety of not only your own Feast, but also for the protection and benefit of other brethren around the world. Ask God to help each of you to be kind, cooperative and giving, thereby helping others to have an enjoyable Feast, also.
As the Feast draws closer, spend some time each day talking about it, building up the excitement and anticipation. Discuss your family's Feast goals and how to achieve them. Start planning what you can do to make this Feast special for each family member. Strive to accommodate, in balance and wisdom, everyone's wishes and desires wherever possible. Each person must keep in mind the needs of each other person in the family. You may want to give some second tithe to your children ahead of time so that they may buy special gifts for themselves and others. Plan a family shopping trip sometime before or during the Festival period. Do some research on the area where you will be attending the Feast and find out what it offers in the way of educational and recreational opportunities. Obtain maps and anticipate what you'll see en route as well.
Let nothing spoil your Feast
During the Feast we may have to sacrifice some of the creature comforts we are accustomed to at home. Family members will spend about two weeks or more in close proximity, traveling in the car and sharing a room or a small apartment. In such circumstances, irritations can easily develop. Tempers can flare. But try to avoid family arguments that ruin the Festival for everyone — and that mar the picture we are trying to paint. Strive to maintain a spirit of cooperation and teamwork. The father, as head of the family, should take the lead and set the example. He should be the one to exemplify kindness and consideration. If he does, his wife and children will be inspired to follow in his footsteps. Each father should think ahead about how to make the Feast most enjoyable and profitable for his wife and family. If you are the father, consider this: Your wife has had a busy, tiring year, especially if she has small children, and needs a break just as much as you do. Therefore, make the Feast special for your helpmate, partner and the mother of your children. Plan to help her with the details of preparing for services. Entertain the children while she is getting ready. Look for ways you can lighten her responsibilities. In everything you do, work at being kind, courteous and always encouraging, following Christ's example in His relationship with the Church (Eph. 5:25). Older children can be assigned responsibilities such as helping with the dishes, making beds or preparing breakfast. This not only helps ease Mother's load, but teaches teamwork. Parents should set the example for their children in helping and serving one another, practicing the give way rather than the get way. Point out how much more pleasant it is for everyone when we have love and peace in our homes.
Concentrate on the Feast's spiritual aspect
With the excitement and business of preparing for the Feast, it is easy to allow physical activities to interfere with your spiritual life. Don't let this happen — keep God at the center of your plans. Maintain a schedule of daily prayer and Bible study. Remember, God has commanded your presence at the Feast that you may learn to rejoice and to fear Him (Deut. 14:23-26). Be sure to put Him first. Bear in mind that the Feast symbolizes the wonderful world tomorrow, when peace and love will reign throughout the earth. Your marriage and family life should typify the spirit and atmosphere of that glorious time. Make it your goal as a family — husband, wife and children — to picture God's soon-coming Kingdom in the way you observe this coming Feast season.
How Your Children Can Rejoice
Whether your children are able to really rejoice at this Feast of Tabernacles depends on you!
by Bernard W Schnippert
Make no mistake: God's Feast of Tabernacles is just as important for your children as for yourself or your spouse. God, in fact, commanded that your children enjoy the Feast — that they rejoice just as you will rejoice (Deut. 16:14). But an important difference exists between the rejoicing of an adult at the Feast and the rejoicing of a child. Whether an adult rejoices depends largely upon himself. He determines whether he saves his second tithe, how he spends it and how he keeps the Feast. But the same is not true for children. Their ability to rejoice at the Feast of Tabernacles depends upon their parents. What you do decides whether your children will rejoice. Read that again: What you do at the Feast decides whether your children will rejoice or not. How about it? Will you keep the Feast in a way that will allow not only you and your spouse to rejoice, but also your children? You should, for the command that your children rejoice is just as strong and pointed as the command that you rejoice. Probably most parents in God's Church sincerely want their children to enjoy the Feast. They know that their children are set apart by God as holy (I Cor. 7:14). They realize that this means their children can have a better chance of being in God's Church when they mature than the average young person in the world. They can have a better chance, that is, if their parents make good use of training opportunities (like the Feast of Tabernacles) while the children are young. But how does one go about teaching his child to rejoice at the Feast?
Set the example
The place to start is with yourself. Anyone who has children knows well that they mimic us — sometimes too closely! Therefore, we should set a good example. We should keep the Feast properly ourselves. The place to start is by strictly setting aside our second tithe throughout the year. If we don't save our second tithe properly, we will not have it to spend at the Feast and therefore cannot rejoice as fully as we might otherwise. If we don't rejoice, it's a cinch that our children will not either. By not saving our second tithe properly we are, in effect, robbing our children of happiness. Certainly we have no right to do such a thing. Also, we should make sure that we thoroughly understand the meaning and purpose of the Feast of Tabernacles. And while at the Feast, we should make a point of attending all services, obeying all rules and being cooperative in a Christian and godly manner. Our children will mimic our obedience and reap the joy that obedience to God's law brings.
Help children understand
Having resolved to set a good example ourselves, our next step in helping our children rejoice at the Feast should be to teach them about the Feast. Certainly, this should include some formal "child-in-the-lap" instruction where we explain the academic meaning behind the Feast and the things we do. But the most meaningful teaching for our children goes even beyond this. Children learn by doing. That's why God commands us, though we are physical adults, to attend the Feast of Tabernacles ourselves. We are God's children, and we learn what the Millennium will be like by acting it out. In the same way, we should help our children act out the Feast and teach them why we are doing what we are doing as we are doing it. Notice Deuteronomy 11:18-19. God commanded: "Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." Notice that in these scriptures God does not say the teaching should be solely a classroom experience. No, He wants you to teach your children why you are obeying God and how to obey God as you yourself do. Applying this to the Feast of Tabernacles is simple. As you save your second tithe throughout the year, explain to your children what you are doing and why. As you pack for the Feast, give them lessons about being prepared. As you travel to the Feast, explain why you leave your home for a week and a half each year to meet in the place God chooses. When you get to the Feast and pull up to the motel or into the campground, explain the meaning of temporary dwellings. As you go to the services, help your children understand what God's ministers are teaching and what all the speakers are saying. Carry your teaching over to your leisure-time activities, also. If you eat in a nice restaurant, explain how you have received this blessing for obeying God and His ways. Tell them that in the world tomorrow all people will be as blessed as you are. If you go for a walk in the park, explain how the animals in the world tomorrow will be tame and how children will be able to stand with one hand on a lion and another on a lamb without fear.
Give them special attention
Do you see how simple it can be to teach your children? Sometimes we as adults make things too difficult. Teaching your children about the Scriptures — even having them memorize certain key passages — is important, and this type of training should be included in your Feast of Tabernacles instruction. But the best instruction for the Feast is simply for your children to learn by doing what you are doing. Tailor some of your activities especially to the children. The hubbub of important goings-on at the Feast can sometimes cause us to unintentionally shove our children into the background. We can think that the deep, beautiful spiritual truths of God can't reach young minds and therefore inadvertently leave them out of the action. In fact, that's exactly what Christ's disciples did. And it was Christ's disciples' act of pushing the children away that caused Christ to rebuke them (Matt. 19:13-14). If Christ took time out for special attention toward the children, so should we. Plan now for special activities strictly for your youngsters. Take them to the zoo or to the miniature golf course or to a restaurant they might like. And don't forget, while you escort them through the activity you should again remind them that they are having this fun because your family is obeying God.
Learn from them, too
It's true that this article is about how to help your children rejoice at the Feast, but another point should be made: While teaching your children, take a moment to learn from them. See how teachable and believing they are as you explain to them about God's way. See how their minds reach out to understand God's truth as you explain it to them. Marvel at the questions they ask about God's way, and how willing their minds are to accept and believe what you say simply because you are their parent and they trust you. Shouldn't you and I as adult members in God's Church be as receptive to our spiritual Father, the great God Almighty, as our children are to us? Certainly. And we will be if we take time out to guide our children's way through the Feast instead of just letting the Feast happen to them. We will see the joy that they experience, and we will see more perfectly how teachable we should be as the spiritual children of God our Father. The Feast of Tabernacles is a fun time for each one of us. We as adults should diligently help our children understand the Feast and see that they rejoice as we ourselves do. If we do, our children will express the proper, teachable, humble, rejoicing, childlike attitude that Christ said would characterize God's children in His Kingdom. And the sound of our young people rejoicing at the Feast of Tabernacles will be deafening in God's ears!
The Feast Is for Teenagers, Too
Here's information, addressed to both parents and teens, on how teenagers can make the most of this year's Fall Festival.
by Ronald D Kelly
Nearly 14,000 teenagers will attend this Feast at sites around the world! That's about one in every seven individuals who will attend the Feast! The Feast of Tabernacles is definitely for teenagers, too. When God instituted His annual Holy Days in ancient Israel some 3,500 years ago, He said "Thou shalt observe the feast of tabernacles seven days, after that thou hast gathered in thy corn and thy wine: And thou shalt rejoice in thy feasts, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter" (Deut. 16:13-14). God intended the Feast of Tabernacles to be a family affair. To help prepare this article, I asked the freshman class at Ambassador College in Big Sandy, Tex., to write papers on how they looked back upon their Feast experiences during their teenage years. I was pleasantly surprised to see how many of them looked back with great joy at spending those valuable days together with their families at the Feast. Here are some quotes about family togetherness:
Most of the Feast I spent with my family, which I enjoyed. I noticed that in some families there was less family unity than in ours. Some teens were out doing one thing and the parents another. Seldom did they get together as a family to do something. As I look back upon it, I am so happy now our family did many things together. Some students who do not have close families have mentioned to me how much they wish their family had done — but never did.
And from another student:
The last few years I've noticed a change in attitude among many teens. It seems that more are becoming interested in the Church and interested in their families. I think the teens still enjoy the same activities as always — activities such as dances, skating and boat rides. But I also think that teenagers, because of new interest in the Church family, have learned to enjoy family activities such as family dances, picnics, sightseeing tours and amusement centers together.
Teen years provide the opportunity to build solid, enduring family relationships. The time spent traveling to and from the Feast plus the eight days at the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day give occasion, probably, for more family togetherness than at any other time of the year. Families should capitalize on this marvelous opportunity. Most families begin their Festival planning many months before the time that bright full moon signals the beginning of the Feast in the seventh month on God's sacred calendar. Of course, the first order of business is to decide which site to attend. In some cases, this might be quite a problem. One family member may want to attend a site near home. Another may want to drive two or three days each way. The kids probably look to exotic recreational opportunities such as visiting Disneyland or a stop by the nation's capital on the way to or from the Feast. In most cases, the family's finances and the time available off work and school will dictate the kind of Feast trip the family will take. But with so many exciting places to keep the Feast (77 sites worldwide this year!), site selection can be quite a problem.
Leaving school behind
Of course, in addition to planning in terms of time and finances, each member of the family must make proper personal arrangements. Dad, for instance, will have to arrange vacation time from his job. All the kids who are in school need to be sure they get off to a good start with school officials and teachers each new school year. Leaving school for eight or 10 or more days early in the school year can create difficulties unless properly handled. So, early in your Feast planning, make arrangements for time off from school and establish the best possible relationship with teachers and school administrators. Over the years thousands of young people in God's Church have been able to properly arrange for the Feast time without undue hardships or academic difficulties. Don't fall behind in or miss any schoolwork because of the Feast. Some teenagers go all out and do extra work beforehand so they won't have so much homework to do during the Festival. Others take their books along and make sure they spend a certain amount of time each day at their studies. Make every effort to keep your grades up.
Travel is education
Education comes from many areas in one's life. Certainly, classroom instruction is important. But teens in God's Church may benefit in ways other teenagers may not be able to, by taking full advantage of the travel opportunities available in keeping the Feast. Enterprising students have arranged with teachers to write themes about the trip and historic sites they visited. Others, who enjoy photography, have taken slides of their trips and put on slide shows for classmates. Thus the teachers did not view the students trips to the Feast of Tabernacles as negative, but as positive. Most teachers recognize the value of travel in one's education. Far too often, families barrel down the highways mile after mile without so much as even pausing for a few minutes to take advantage of the educational opportunities and natural wonders along the road. Families need to plan together, before the Feast, the route they will take and the sights family members would like to see. Visiting national parks and reading historical markers can provide information and inspiration. Here is one student's comment on his Feast travel experiences:
I remember on the way we would stop by different sites that made the trip special and entertaining. It kept that part of the Feast from being dreaded. Benefit from the spiritual meat
Of course, the primary purpose of attending the Feast of Tabernacles in God's Church today is to receive the spiritual meat provided during the services. By the time one is a teenager, he should be prepared to think more seriously about the meanings of the sermons and sermonettes God's ministers bring. The college students were quick to point out how they began to realize, in their teens, the importance of getting something from the messages:
The sermons and sermonettes helped me realize my responsibility for the knowledge I gained. Baptized or not, I was still under the law. The messages also helped me feel more a part of God's Church and His coming Kingdom.
As a young teenager, it was often hard for me to follow the sermons. Some days we sat by ourselves and ended up playing little games during Church. But as I grew older, I found the Feast to be more rewarding when I paid attention during services.
Still another wrote:
Most of all, I remember the many services and messages we received. I think, though, that if I had been made to pay more attention I would have gotten more out of it. Now that I am late in my teen years, I appreciate the Feast messages more and more. Therefore, I have come to enjoy my favorite time of the year even more.
Encourage discussion on the way to lunch or back to the motel after the sermons. Ask teenagers their opinions about the message — talk about the notes they've taken and the main points that were emphasized. A brief review while riding in the car can help cement thoughts and ideas in our minds as well as provide a platform for family discussions.
Recreation at the Feast
The Feast of Tabernacles is a time of spiritual fellowship, inspiration and instruction in God's Word, but in addition it is a time of Church fellowship and recreation. At Feast sites around the world, almost unlimited recreational opportunities are available. We have already seen that travel is education. And coupled with visits to historic sites and natural wonders on the way to the Feast is the opportunity for rest, relaxation and recreation to rejuvenate every family at the Feast. Many college students looked back on profitable recreational opportunities. Perhaps you will get some ideas for this year's Feast from them:
Group dates are an absolute blast during the Feast. Getting a carload of people and going bowling, dancing or just out for pizza or a beach sing-along are good, clean ways of having fun. Recreational opportunities at the Feast were endless.
A few years ago I saw how the Church was gearing up for teenagers. At one Feast site we attended there was a game room for YOU [Youth Opportunities United, an organization for Church youths] members at a teen center — this allowed us to spend time together. By the end of the Feast the teen center had become an important factor of our being able to spend time with our peer group — that's what being a teen is all about.
Old and new friends
For a teenager, the Feast of Tabernacles can be a marvelous opportunity for spending time with friends. Not only can close friends from a Church area be together for the Feast, but teens from different areas can become acquainted with one another. YOU sponsors many activities during the Feast. In addition, there are movies, special films from Ambassador College, dances, sporting events and a host of other activities that encourage teenagers to spend time together. If you have not been involving yourself with teen activities, plan to do so this year. Long-lasting relationships are started at the Feast of Tabernacles. Students often begin corresponding with fellow teens and find that enduring friendships are formed. In this most important area of life, here's what a couple of students had to say:
As a former member of YOU, I can remember how important meeting new friends was. Various activities scheduled throughout the Feast made making new friends very easy. Outings to an amusement park were always popular. Other activities included beach parties, roller-skating, horseback riding and dancing.
The Feast is a terrific opportunity for young people to make new friends. The friendships do not have to end right after the Feast. Teens should take each other's addresses and become pen pals.
Make the most of the Feast
Your teen years will pass by all too quickly. You may, as a high school student, think college, marriage and career are far away. But they will be upon you before you know it. During this special time in your life when you are still living at home, yet growing toward physical and emotional maturity, you are formulating personal patterns that will affect everything you do for the rest of your life. The Feast of Tabernacles can and should be one of the most important parts of your life. Here are a few more comments from Ambassador students on those delightful years:
If it were not for the Feast days, I would have thought life to be quite boring.
And from another:
The last two things that I thought really added to my Feasts were Feast gifts and serving. These things, instead of making my Feast simply get, get, get, gave it a bit of balance and made it more fulfilling.
Here's one more:
The Feast of Tabernacles is a wonderful time of year that pictures on a small scale what the world might be like during the time of the Millennium. Don't take the Feast for granted. The Feast for teenagers will not be enjoyable unless they make it fun, exciting and educational themselves.
Don't let the Feast pass you by — make the most of it this year and every year to come.