A practical activity for children and adults.
John 7:1-2, 10
7 After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. 2. The time came for the Jewish festival of Tabernacles. 10. However, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went also, not publicly, but in secret.
I think at times we forget that Jesus was a Jew and would have followed the Jewish faith, and today’s passage reminds us of this. His brothers would have gone to Jerusalem to celebrate with thousands of other Jews, Jesus didn’t want to miss out on this important festival.
The Festival of the Tabernacles.
This Jewish festival is still celebrated today all around the world.
It is one of three major festivals – like Passover and Pentecost.
Passover – thanked God for the planting of the crops
Pentecost – thanked God for the grain harvest.
Sukkot – was the end of the harvest and it was about thanking God for the end of the harvest. It would have been a time of great job because all the harvest was gathered in.
Sukkot was an agricultural festival celebrating the end of the harvest it was and still is held in the Autumn. It is a time of rejoicing and of pilgrimage, tens of thousands of people to travelled to Jerusalem at the time of Jesus.
All kinds of celebrations take place.. and people make tabernacles or booths out of whatever people have available. This festival lasts seven days and during the seven days you are to eat, pray and read the bible in the tabernacle.
It is also known as Sukkot. It reminds people of the forty years when the people of Israel wondered in the desert.
There is still a lot of information about what you should do on the Festival of Tabernacles and how it should be carried out.
This festival is something that you could easily do with children either in a classroom or in a church and leave it there for seven days.
Building a Sukkah
Sukkah means shelter and you are supposed to create it outside with nothing above it so that you can see the stars. (see diagram at the bottom)
The sides can be made of anything, perhaps sheets.
And it has to be big enough for a table and for someone to sit.
The roof has to be made from things that grow out of the ground, such as branches and leaves. This give protection from the sun during the day and you can still see the stars at night.
You can decorate it with flowers, fruit, wreathes, or ornaments and strings of fairy lights could be hung around the outside.
You can decorate the inside with posters of bible stories.
The day before Sukkot you have to collect 4 things:
Etrog – like a lemon – it symbolises the heart, the place of understanding and wisdom.
Lulav – branches of a palm tree – it symbolises the backbone and uprightness.
Hadas – 3 myrtle branches – these symbolise seeing and vision, enlightenment.
Aravah – 2 leafy branches of a willow – these symbolise the lips of prayer.
These four items are brought together in a bouquet and is waved during the ceremony every day during sukkot. (see the diagram below of how to make these)
You recite the blessing then wave the lulav in 6 directions.
Forward – right – to the back – to the left – up – down.
1. Say the blessing then light the candles.
Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who sanctifies us with his commandments and commanded us to light these candles of Sukkot.
2. Thank God for the season with a blessing.
Blessed are you, Lord our God, Master of the Universe, who has kept us alive and sustained us and who has brought us to this special time.
3. Say Kiddush before the meal.
Blessed art thou, Lord our God, Master of the Universe, creator of the true fruit of the vine.
4. Say the Sukkah blessing – (it says you have to say it joyfully)
Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who sanctifies us with his commandments and commanded us to dwell in the Sukkah. Happy Sukkot!
5. Recite the blessing over the bread.
Blessed art thou, Lord our God, King of the Universe,
Who brings forth the living bread from heaven.
Then enjoy the meal together.
The traditional food – Stuffed cabbage, fruit and seasonal vegatables.
Dishes made with honey and pastries.
6. Wave the lulav – facing east hold the lulav in your right hand and the Etrog in your left hand. Lift them together and say the Lulav blessing.
Blessed art thou, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who sanctifies us with his commandments and commanded us regarding the waving of the lulav.
It could be something that you do for Harvest Festival in September.
It can be exciting and fun for the children to take part in something and will be something they will remember for a long time to come.
Make sure you take lots of photos. J