The biblical festivals written out in detail in books like Exodus and Leviticus are full of invitation to embody God's eternal calendar in real time here on earth. Each festival offers the individual, and the faith community as a whole, the opportunity to leave slavery, celebrate revelations, and receive the shalom of being fully seen, loved and covered by their creator. Each festival is a learning environment encouraging the student to live more wholly (and holy) and with a sense of the original purpose of God's Kingdom on earth; which leads me to telling you we are in the festival season of Sukkot, or you may know it as, the Festival of Booths.
The festival of Sukkot is marked by Jewish families setting up little tent like structures in their gardens or on their balconies and decorating them. Sukkot simply means shelters. These temporary shelters then host family and friends for times of fellowship over a week-long period. It is traditional to eat all your meals out in your "sukkah" and some even sleep in them. The idea is that you sleep under the stars and delight in the season of a fruitful harvest too. I have been in Israel during Sukkot and have witnessed families and communities all set up these lovely structures and delight in just being together. The whole process is really quite special and is a group effort. There is a really joyful buzz in the air.
Aside from Sukkot being a biblical festival, it is interesting to note that after Jacob faces his brother Esau after many years of separation, he journeys to a place called Sukkoth, which is just another way of spelling Sukkot. Jacob builds a shelter for his livestock and that's how it gets its name. Another place that Sukkoth appears is in Exodus when the Children of Israel are leaving Egypt. In both instances the covenanted people of God have just been covered by God with such grace, as they transition from one chapter of their lives to another. The place of Sukkoth feels significant in both these situations, and the place of Sukkot in sacred time also feels significant, even today.
Sukkot resonates in my spirit today as a place of shelter in a way that I haven't experienced before. It is a place where God says He will meet with His people and join with them in celebrating a season of harvest, but to me this years Sukkot feels like a place of refuge in a deeper way. I hear this still small voice saying, "I've got you covered" and to me this is the fundamental truth of Sukkot. It is the temporary dwelling place that reminds us we are in fact a temporary dweller on this earth and that a tender Heavenly Father, and an almighty and just King, has us all covered whether we know it or not.
So many times in the scriptures we read of a God who is covering us, with pictures of wings and hands, outstretched arms, trees, and tabernacles. All images of covering that all have a movement about them like they simply dance where we dance according to our season. Maybe the most intimate space of being covered in scripture is the place between the two cherubim found on the covering of the ark of the covenant, the place where God's instructional utterances were placed. This space in-between the cherubim is a holy of holy place. A place of testimony, face-to-face, naked and unashamed, intimate, and surrendered. It is this place that our whole being, all our words, feelings, thoughts, and lives can simply come to be themselves fully. It is a place covered by the same images of the cherubim we see guarding the entrance to the garden of Eden with their ever-turning fiery swords, and therefore it is a place of entering back into a place of God's presence, naked and unashamed. Back to the garden we were always designed to dwell in.
This covering and opening is one and the same. A sacred entrance revealed to those who have let go of ego and have chose to stop surviving by covering themselves by their own means. It is still a place of choice but the favor and grace is so heavy that it would be hard to grab on to the old ways. It is a place of letting go and walking in the garden with God in sweet conversation and being comforted by Him as we go forward in our stories.
My friends, this has felt big to write for you today especially as humanity is facing so much. I truly believe with all my heart that God is saying to us all in these days, "I've got you covered", and all He wants us to do is lift up our eyes and look to Him for truth in the chaos. Wherever you might be, whatever you are facing, the Spirit of God is in your midst and will comfort you as you faithfully walk in obedience with God's word. I know these times are full of unknowns, but His grace abounds and His banner over you is love.
Now, get outside, look at the sky, do something practical to let this truth surround you like a sukkah, a shelter in these changing seasons, for He is faithful and has indeed got you covered!