Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Sukkot - smile!!



Many more people came up to Jerusalem to celebrate Sukkot than the other two mandatory Feasts, Passover and Shavuot, probably because Sukkot was at harvest time, and not during the busy growing season. That is why there was no room for Joseph and Mary in the inn.

Sukkot is specifically  the ‘time of our joy’ because:

The angel said to them, ‘I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.’
Because...
     
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us…..for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have Everlasting Life…..
In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 
Luke 2.10, John 1.14,3.16, 1 John 4.9

Jesus was born at Sukkot...specifically, on 15 Tishri 2BCE.
There is one special way in which we can share our joy at Sukkot.

Each human being is created in the image of God, the Ultimate Giver, and each human being has something unique and special to give to the world.

There exist on earth billions of people, and they all have the same basic features on their faces: two eyes, a nose, and a mouth. BUT, no two people look alike.

Why would God need to create billions of people, where each one is different from the next?

The secret is that each person is given a specific Divine task, to carry out on earth a heavenly purpose.  For as many people as God creates, He has just as many different tasks and purposes. The work of each person is unique.

Therefore, God gives each person unique talents and attributes necessary for him to fulfill his task, as Paul wrote to Timothy:
God has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began..   2Timothy 1.9

To fulfill our individual tasks, we need each other, and we need to honour and cherish each other. As Paul writes in 1Corinthians 12.14-18:
The body is not one member but many.
If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body?
If the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body?
If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing?
If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling?
But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.
One of the most precious gifts that we can give is to greet people cheerfully, because we demonstrate that we are glad they are in this world. Through the warm smile on our face, they feel recognized and appreciated, and this feeling is more important than any material gift we can give.
Rabbi Chaim Friedlander always had a warm smile on his face even when he spoke to someone on the phone.
Someone asked him, ‘The other person can't see your smile, so why bother?’
He responded: ‘Although the listener may not be able to see my smile, he can hear my smile.'

There is many a person whose petty conceit will not permit him to recognize anyone unless he is recognized first. The other person must make the first move. This is his way of establishing and maintaining his ‘dignity,’ or so he believes.

Others will hesitate from a sense of insecurity to be the first to extend a warm greeting to those they meet. They are afraid to give a token of friendship and receive only an icy stare in return. They will therefore insist on waiting until the person they meet takes the ‘emotional risk,’ while they ‘play it safe.’

Take the initiative.
Do not seek a sense of conceit or importance, or an illusion of security, at the expense of another's feelings.
Give him a friendly greeting with a warm smile, and enquire after his welfare. 
Share your joy…for the joy of the LORD is your strength.  Nehemiah 8.10

Today, there are many people who feel despondent and suspicious of others. By greeting each person with a warm and cheerful countenance, we can uplift their spirits and remind them that they are needed and appreciated.

In this way, we will share our joy in the loving and compassionate ways of our Creator, Saviour, Redeemer, and Messiah:
Thus says the Exalted One….’I am with the despondent and lowly of spirit, to revive the spirit of those feeling low and to revive the heart of the despondent.’ Isaiah 57:15

The seventh and last day of Sukkot, is called the Great Day of the Feast, Hoshanah Rabbah:

On the last day, that Great Day of the Feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’

We can understand now why the Feast of Sukkot is ‘the time of our joy’!


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