by John Hailes/ May 12, 2015
Growing up in an old-school Pentecostal church it wasn’t uncommon to hear about the Jewish feasts on Sunday morning. I knew a number of Christians who enjoyed learning about and partaking of them. However, I had concluded that those feasts shared their fate with the rest of the book of Leviticus; they were unimportant and irrelevant. Over time though, I have begun to see the true value of these feasts (and Leviticus); not just to us today but also to the Jewish people they were originally for.
The festivals were special times where Jewish people would break from their regular work routines, dedicate time to God, mourn their sins, celebrate their lives, and thank God for everything He had given them. The different festivals helped the Jewish people to stop, remember the good things God had done for them, celebrate those things, and continue to follow God faithfully. They also gave insight into the nature of God.
I think there is a lot our children can learn from these festivals. Our kids today live in a world that makes it hard to follow God—their weeks are too full, they have so much that they don’t appreciate, and they are surrounded by distractions. It’s true that this generation lives life in the fast lane. Even when it comes to their walk with God, they quickly move from one thing to another. There is little time spent on stopping, remembering, celebrating, and being thankful.
I encourage you to do something creative to help your kids experience Pentecost, also called the Feast of Weeks, on Pentecost Sunday (May 24, 2015). Here are some ideas to get you thinking:
The Jewish people would break from their work schedule. Have kids break from their usual structure. Give kids printed Scriptures and instruct them to spread across the room and spend time in silence to pray and reflect on God’s nature. We often hear the Holy Spirit clearest when we break from our regular routine.
The Jewish people would remember specific things God had done for them. Have kids take time to remember, share with a small group, and write down on paper the things they have seen God do for their family. Find containers or jars for kids to decorate and fill with their strips of paper to begin a family remembrance jar.
The Jewish people would fill the streets of Jerusalem to celebrate the festival. Throw a big party for no other reason than to celebrate what God has done in the kids’ lives. Have snacks, dance, and play games to celebrate and give thanks.
4. Serve Others
God commanded the Jewish people to leave some of their crops for the poor. Have kids do a service project for your local community. Have kids make gifts or treats for less fortunate people. Encourage kids to sacrifice something important for someone in need.
The Feast of the Weeks has rich symbolism and significance, which isn’t beyond our kids’ understanding. However, there is also great value and spiritual discipline to be gained from tangibly experiencing different aspects of this feast. Don’t fall into the trap, as I once did, of completely discarding the Old Testament meaning to replace it with the new. The Old and New fulfill one another.