Warning: I’m about to unleash some crazy on you! This post will take you through my very discombobulated thought process, so buckle up and hold on tight! Also, I’m no scholar or historian, these are just my opinions…. But don’t substitute my judgment for your own! If you’ve got the Holy Spirit in you, do what HE leads you to do. It was for FREEDOM that we were set free!
Over the past few years, I’ve been exposed to a growing number of Christians who celebrate Biblical holidays. I guess maybe 3 years ago, we as a family, took part in our first “Passover.” I put Passover in quotation marks because we did not do a full seder meal, the feast of unleavened bread, etc. This year, we again participated in a truncated Passover seder. There is SO much symbolism in Jewish traditions. A lot of the seder is about remembering how God delivered His people from captivity in Egypt. Well, as believers, a lot of the seder is a direct parallel to our own deliverance. The piercings and stripes in the matzah and the piercings and stripes in our Savior… the hidden piece of matzah… so symbolic. So rich. (I’ll digress if I linger here too long. Look it up. There’s some cool stuff in our Jewish history. :) )
Now, I personally do not believe that we are obligated to take part in Biblical holidays. There is Old Testament scripture that indicates that the Passover meal was established as an everlasting covenant between God and His people. As a gentile, I think it’s probably a judgment call about whether or not we are part of that covenant. I know we were grafted in to God’s family tree through a new covenant, Jesus Christ. The direct parallel that I draw from for this conclusion is the covenant made regarding circumcision.
Genesis 17:9-12 - 9And God said to Abraham, "As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. 10This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a) sign of the covenant between me and you. 12He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, 13both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. 14Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant."
Part of Romans 2:29 - circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code.
Acts 15:1-29 (Read the whole thing yourself, but this is an excerpt that applies.) - The apostles and elders, your brothers, To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia: Greetings. 24We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. 25So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul— 26men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. 28It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: 29You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell.
I love how abruptly those verses end. “You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell.” Hahah It seems that the Holy Spirit did not feel compelled to place the covenant of circumcision upon the new gentile believers, so to me it seems like, again, we are not obligated to take part in Old Testament covenantal activities. However, the Jewish festivals and holidays are so beautiful and rich in their symbolism that I think we gentile believers actually miss out on a much bigger picture of our Messiah. So, we choose to participate. This year, we will participate even more fully… but I’ll get to that.
This is another important New Testament comment that speaks more directly to the celebration of feasts.
Colossians 2:13-17 - And you, who were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, having canceled the bond which stood against us with its legal demands; this he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in him. Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a sabbath. These are only a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.
Our covenant has been brought about and fulfilled by the Messiah, Jesus Christ Himself! Praise God for doing the work of our salvation!
What about Easter? Well, if you look into Easter’s origins, you might be disturbed. The word “Easter” comes from a fertility goddess, and that’s kinda weird, and the holiday is certainly extra-Biblical (meaning it is not Biblically prescribed, but there are lots of things that are extra-biblical that are not necessarily wrong, i.e., children’s ministries, Sunday School, alter calls, etc.) So when I thought about this, I was first drawn to the extremes. Maybe we should disassociate from Easter completely because of its origins, regardless of what it means to us today? Well, if I’m going to do that, I should really also abstain from January, February, March, June… hahah It made me laugh to think about it. “I am no longer participating in January.” The fact is, whether we like it our not, our culture is so entrenched in these Greek and Roman gods and goddesses and mythology that we would really have to redefine our entire culture and language to completely be free of them. Likewise, Easter was historically a “month” (and still is on the liturgical calendar). It was a period of time and a point of reference commonly understood. Nonetheless, I continued to think, “Well, maybe we SHOULD just do away with our calendar?” I started looking at the Hebrew calendar more closely. Perhaps this is the calendar we should follow? Uh oh. Bad news. During their Babylonian captivity, the Hebrew people named a month (Tammuz) after a Babylonian god. I forgot that the Hebrews pretty regularly turned their back on the one true God. And I imagine it was really difficult for them, being the first monotheists and all. They were surrounded by polytheists on every side and clearly, they weren’t totally unaffected.
So is it cool that we reclaimed this pagan fertility festival thing for the one true God and use the time to celebrate Christ’s resurrection from the dead? Judgment call, but I say yes. To me, in my heart (where God looks, not the outward appearance) Easter does not mean what it once did. It is not about a fertility goddess for me, it’s about the resurrection of the Messiah! Just like January does not make me think of the god Janis, but of a New Year and of Aspen’s birth.
So Easter was originally this crazy pagan thing that has been reclaimed, and the same is true of Christmas (sorry if I’m bubble-bursting), but as gentile believers in a nonliturgical part of the body, those are the big 2 celebrations. I thought about Francis Chan’s book, “Forgotten God,” which is EXCELLENT, if you haven’t read it. Do you think the Holy Spirit feels a little jilted that He gets virtually NO recognition from us? I mean, He’s the Living-Within-Us God. Why isn’t this a big deal to us? Why isn’t there a parallel “Holy Spirit Christmas” to celebrate His arrival on the scene? I guess the Holy Spirit gets little recognition because He’s seemingly intangible. At least the liturgical church recognizes the day of Pentecost as worthy of celebration, however large or small.
So my thought process then took me to another place… what about the liturgical calendar? If I’m choosing willingly, to participate in Biblical holidays because of their rich historical significance and solidarity (fist pump) with my Jewish family, can I not also choose solidarity (fist pump) with my gentile brothers and sisters, and their history? Sure, there’s some weird stuff in our gentile history, but there’s also some weird stuff in our Jewish history. I think it goes back to my heart in celebrating. If I’m doing it just to do it, out of obligation or tradition, maybe it isn’t worth the trouble? But if I’m doing it to truly celebrate the King of Kings, then party on!
So what am I gonna do with all these thoughts and opinions? Something CRAZY, of course. In the Old Testament, giving 10% was the principle. In the New Testament, the Acts church gave EVERYTHING. So, that’s what I’m gonna do with my calendar – Give EVERYTHING. This is how I will start. First, I will use the Hebrew calendar to learn my rich Jewish history and of all the pictures that were given to show the foreshadowing of the Messiah’s arrival. I will then overlay the liturgical calendar to learn more about my gentile history and the powerful stories of the saints who have gone on before us. Finally, I’ll fill in the blanks. If I don’t have something that one of “the family” has already established to celebrate on a certain day, I’ll make something up! Every day will be holy and unto the Lord, as it really should be. I’m going to keep it simple and I probably won’t celebrate either the Jewish holidays or the liturgical ones to the degree that the Jewish people or liturgical Christians do. Otherwise, I probably won’t keep it up. But here’s where I will begin.
(As we were coming up with Made-Up Days, we were all just yelling out aspects of God that we are thankful for. Those days will be celebrated by spending some time thinking about that aspect of God. That simple. :) I think it’ll be great! If you’ve got some great ideas for what we could celebrate or if you want to join in the fun, let me know! I’ll try to make a March calendar before March arrives. I’m excited about focusing the ENTIRE calendar on God, by choice, not by obligation. :) )
April 4 – Pesach, Easter Sunday, the Lord’s Day
April 5 – Pesach
April 6 – Pesach
April 7 – Made-Up Day to Celebrate God’s CREATION!
April 8 – Made-Up Day to Celebrate God’s KINDNESS!
April 9 – Shabbat
April 10 – Made-Up Day to Celebrate God’s GOODNESS!
April 11 – Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Memorial Day), Second Sunday of Easter or Divine Mercy Sunday, the Lord’s Day
April 12 – Made-Up Day to Celebrate God’s CREATIVITY!
April 13 – Made-Up Day to Celebrate God’s SACRIFICE!
April 14 – Rosh Chodesh Iyyar (The new Hebrew month begins.)
April 15 – Rosh Chodesh Iyyar (The new Hebrew month begins.)
April 16 – Shabbat
April 17 – Made-Up Day to Celebrate God’s PROVISION!
April 18 – Third Sunday of Easter, the Lord’s Day
April 19 – Yom Hazikaron (Israeli Memorial Day)
April 20 – Yom HaAtzma'ut (Israeli Independence Day)
April 21 – Made-Up Day to Celebrate NEW LIFE!
April 22 – Made-Up Day to Celebrate HOPE!
April 23 – Shabbat
April 24 – Made-Up Day to Celebrate God’s PEACE!
April 25 – Fourth Sunday of Easter, the Lord’s Day
April 26 – Made-Up Day to Celebrate God’s LOVE!
April 27 – Made-Up Day to Celebrate JOY!
April 28 – Made-Up Day to Celebrate God’s POWER!
April 29 – Learn about St. Catherine of Siena (Who is she? I don’t know. I’ve never participated in the liturgical calendar. :) Ask me on April 30th.)
April 30 – Shabbat