Many Christians miss the rich heritage of most of our holidays. For example, Rosh Hashanah begins on the evening of September 13, 2015. The children’s sermon Water Gate tells the story of the Hebrew slaves being released from Babylon to return to Jerusalem. The blowing of the shophar (pronounced SHOW-far) or ram’s horn, was part of a celebration from which we came to blow horns on New Year’s Day. This year Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) is on September 23, 2015. As I wrote in a blog Day of Atonement three years ago, this was a day of repentance and forgiveness for the whole congregation.
Yom Kippur is explained…The children’s sermon Scapegoat tells the story. Have you ever known a time when you could forgive others but had a hard time forgiving yourself? This story is about allowance: allowance for others and making allowance for our own shortcomings. It was a makeover. Once a year the congregation asked God to wipe the slate clean and got a new start. Two goats were used — one killed for an offering (a Christ pre-figure) and Azazel (pronounced az-aw-ZALE) meaning goat of departure. That goat had a crimson ribbon tied to its head (representing the sin) and was led outside the camp, never to be allowed back in. It was the scapegoat that carried the sins away. Are you still carrying any baggage that you should let go? If you want to receive the forgiveness of God, then make allowance for yourself and forgive yourself the same as you forgive others – perfectly. Then the “at-one-ment” of experiencing the oneness with Christ will flow into your life.
Then fourteen days after the new year, a sense of community is fostered in the feast of booths (Sukkot), or Tabernacles on September 28, 2015. This was really the closest holiday to what we now celebrate in America as Thanksgiving. It was a meet and greet in the street, a welcoming of strangers, and a community-wide celebration of gratefulness for God’s providence throughout their journey in the wilderness and a reminder that we are only dwelling here temporarily. So the coming weeks will give us a moment to pause to be grateful for our redemption, our forgiveness, and to share our hearts full of thanks with those around us.
This article was written by Jim