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Getting the Most from the Feast

by Larry J. McElroy

The Feast is coming! You have heard so much about God’s Festival. Brethren at Sabbath services have given glowing reports of Feasts attended in years past, but you will be attending for the first time.

Will you be prepared? You have studied lesson 28 of the Bible Study Course. You have faithfully saved second tithe.

You wonder, “Will there be a large group where I am assigned to attend? How can I get the most from attending the Feast? What do I need to do?”

Proper Preparation

God plans, and then performs the tasks that complete the plan. We must do likewise to be successful in life and in getting the most from God’s feasts—especially the Feast of Tabernacles.

The annual festival requires more planning because it involves a period of eight or more days, including traveling considerable distances, staying in a temporary and unfamiliar environment, meeting new people, and being exposed to a different climate.

We need to plan each aspect of the Feast for it to be joyful and educational. Step by step, we can be prepared to thoroughly delight in our first Feast.

Let’s begin!

Manage Your Finances

You have just made reservations for your accommodations. You now know the major cost of attending. From this, you can estimate the cost of transportation to and from the site, including meals and housing while traveling. Adding these two costs together and deducting this sum from your total amount of second tithe gave you the total needed to budget for the festival.

The money can be applied for your family’s enjoyment: “And you shall bestow that money for whatsoever your soul lusts after [your heart desires], for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever your soul desires: and you shall eat there before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you, and your household” (Deut. 14:26).

By budgeting your finances, you will have peace of mind and be able to plan the most effective use of your resources.

Appearance Matters

We should reflect God’s quality in the way we dress on our way to, from and while at the Feast. As you have been learning since you began to attend Sabbath services, you are in training to be an ambassador for God’s way of life. You will have read various articles addressing the proper appearance of one of God’s representatives, or have had it brought to your attention in sermonettes.

We can reflect the quality appearance God wants us to have by ensuring our clothing is clean and in the best possible condition.

Taking your suits or dresses to the cleaners prior to traveling is an ideal way to maintain an ambassador’s appearance.

You might consider buying a new suit or some other addition to your wardrobe. An additional suit or dress will add variety as you attend services for eight consecutive days, and you will enjoy wearing a new clothing item.

Be sure your shoes are shined, appropriate and match your clothing. In the business world, we are evaluated by the quality and appearance of our shoes over most other factors.

In addition, consider the climate where you will be attending, as this could necessitate changing your wardrobe.

Appropriate styles and colors should reflect a more conservative appearance rather than a trendy, flashy style of dress. Remember: “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it gives light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:14-16).

By wearing a friendly smile, the appropriate clothing and shined shoes, we represent God’s Way to the world.

Get Involved

God is a doer. He accomplishes tasks. We learn by doing! Being involved is a major key to deriving maximum benefits from attending God’s Feast of Tabernacles. Rejoicing requires action on our part, in all aspects of the Feast.

Attend every service. Take part in every Church-organized social activity. By involving yourself, you will learn God’s government, organization, leadership and service to others. Family Day and the RCG Dinner Dance are wonderful times to rejoice before God, and celebrate the unique opportunities He has prepared for those called in this age.

Family Day is a special time for games and fellowship, and to interact with members of your Feast family in an informal setting. Working together to solve a game problem or running a relay race in a team enables brethren to quickly get to know each other. We learn to appreciate others’ personalities and abilities. Who are the artists? Who can organize puzzle pieces? Who can sing or name that tune? You will learn the art of meeting others, and how to quickly establish friendships.

Learning to introduce yourself, present new friends to other brethren, and extend warmth are skills we all can develop. “A man that has friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24).

The Dinner Dance is an opportunity to participate in a quality, semi-formal evening event. Think of it as an adventure, as well as a treat: sitting at a formal dinner setting, with beautiful silver and glassware, then being served a sumptuous array of delicious entrees.

What’s next?

After dinner, beautiful music and enthralling conversation await you—with the dance floor just a few steps away. So put your best foot forward and dance with a partner to a slow foxtrot or waltz—or maybe a lively dance tune from the 1960s. Mix with others you have seen at daily services and exchange background information. Make the Dinner Dance an event to “rejoice in motion” at your first Feast.

Family

The Feast is family time. God tells us to rejoice with our family (Deut. 16:13-14). This is an excellent opportunity to teach God’s ways to your children. Venture out on a family walk, enjoy an activity together, such as miniature golf or a picnic on the beach; go horseback riding, take a boat trip, visit a museum or go to a musical—do something together that will make the Feast memorable.

Teaching your children about God and His Plan for humanity will instill in them the value of the Feast. Draw mental pictures for your children so they can see the world tomorrow. Build quality memories. Buy your children a Feast-oriented gift. Help them with school projects; organize their time so they can complete their assignments. Finishing school tasks will alleviate the anxiety and pressure that they can experience.

You should tell your little ones that God is the Provider and Giver of all good things: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (Jms. 1:17).

Explain how this applies to the Feast. Tell your children that God’s instruction to attend His festival is made possible by saving second tithe. Reinforce in their minds that God wants all His children to rejoice before Him with the resources to enjoy a quality experience.

Be On Time

God’s leaders schedule all services and social gatherings to ensure order and uniformity at the festival. As He instructs, “Let all things be done decently and in order” (I Cor. 14:40).

Arriving on time for services is your responsibility. Being on time is a matter of character. Being on time is a matter of propriety. To be punctual, be sure to:

  • Rise early enough for a leisurely breakfast
  • Collect materials to take to services ahead of time
  • Lay out or plan clothing the night before
  • Allot adequate time to dress young children
  • Know the correct route to services
  • Schedule bathroom visits before services start
  • Arrive early enough to find appropriate seating
  • Be seated before hymns begin

Again, make sure to be on time for all services. Allow for the unexpected—arrive early. By doing so, we honor God and show our desire to learn.

Spend Time with God

Your first Feast will seem overwhelmingly delightful. Many new friends, knowledge, activities and possibilities about your future will be on your mind.

To keep the physical in proper perspective, we must focus on the reason God brought us to the Feast. Our understanding depends on us talking with Him. We must spend time in prayer to God, and studying His Word. Tell Him you need His direction at the Feast. Express your appreciation for all the blessings you see developing before your eyes—every day! Realize you are one of God’s children and need His guidance; ask Him to direct your Feast: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Prov. 3:5-6).

Many paths are involved in your journeyings throughout the Feast of Tabernacles. Spend time with God—build a special relationship with your heavenly Father, who has your best interests at heart. This will add peace, comfort and a proper orientation to all that will take place during the eight day festival.

The Feast will speed by. Before you know it, you will be repacking your suitcases and going home.

Will your first Feast be delightful? If you follow the guidelines in this and other articles, your first Feast of Tabernacles will be a wow!

Remember to plan your finances—appearance—full participation—time for your physical and spiritual family—and be punctual for services and activities. Most importantly, plan to spend time with God—He is planning for you to be a member of His Family.

So enjoy participating in God’s training program for the coming wonderful world tomorrow!