October 14, 2012

An Odd Way to Give Thanks -- Pamela Mytroen

Sometimes God has a funny way of asking us to be thankful. Take, for instance, the Jewish Festival of Booths. It falls after their harvest, coinciding with our Canadian Thanksgiving.

After God cared for the Hebrews in the desert for 40 years, He asked them to set aside a week every fall to remember his provision. Jewish law expects every family, to this day, to build a ‘booth’ or a ‘tent’ and to live in it for a week. The law demands that it must be made from something that grows from the ground, such as wood or corn-stalks.

Even more unusual is that the twigs or wood on the roof must be spaced far enough apart to allow the rain to come through. I'm not sure about you but I don't like leaky tents. 

Also, those same openings are to allow the star-light to shine in.

At first glance, it's strange, but maybe that faint scent of rain while lying in a stifling tent wouldn't be so bad! And to feel the hint of a breeze and taste the first sweet raindrop that plops on your cheek? Hmmmm... And at night, what could be better than laying on your back with your arms behind your head, and gazing up at the twinkling Heavens? 

It may be an odd way to give thanks, but it may also carry a profound meaning. Jesus claimed to be Living Water. Living off the land where lack of rain meant starvation, the Jewish people would have blinked and raised their eyebrows when Jesus made such a bold statement. They could taste the wind-blown salt of the Dead Sea which was close by. Jesus declared to be the opposite – to save them from death with His own source of water.  And, in fact, it was on the final day of this Jewish Festival of Booths that Jesus made this assertion. He stood up in the Tabernacle and said, “If any one thirsts, let Him come to me and drink” (John 7, The Message).

Jesus also professed to be the Light of the World.

Maybe it's not so far out, then, that He asks us to crack open our wooden hearts, to push aside some of the busyness of our own brittle booths and take time to remember his care. To allow the fragrance of rain to awaken our stagnant souls, and to welcome his life-giving, soul-cleansing downpour!

And in our dark hours when our hearts are heavy, He wants us to know that, though He’s silent as starlight, He’s still there. He only asks us to lay down. Rest. Peel back our worry just a crack. Allow His peace to filter in and spill over us like sleep.

In the booth of a humble heart, let’s thank the Lord for providing Jesus. And along with the Jewish people, who recite Psalm 27 during this Festival, let us proclaim together, “The Lord is my Light and my Salvation” (Psalm 27:1a).

By Pamela Mytroen


  1. I too appreciated your thoughts. Rain coming through a stifling hot tent caught my ear especially.

  2. I get so excited about stuff like this. Thanks for stopping by, girls!

  3. Like Tracy, I like your analogy. Your reminder of another way to celebrate Thanksgiving made me think that sometimes God takes us out of our comfort zones to help us appreciate how good we have it.

    Although I used to love camping, I remember coming home from roughing it and being thankful for my home, my bed, hot and cold running water, and my electric stove. Leaky tents can teach us many things.

  4. Thanks for explaining the Festival of Booths. I wasn't familiar with all the details and enjoyed your explanation.
    Sometimes it's helpful to think of celebrations from a different context. Thanks for helping us do that.
    By the way, this year I was reminded that our Thanksgiving celebrations are very North American. My husband works with a fellow from France and this year was the first time he celebrated Thanksgiving because they have no such holiday over there!

  5. Thanks for your thoughts, girls. I appreciate my own bed and running water, too, Sharon, and like you said, camping can help us appreciate the luxuries we have.
    Ruth, thanks for your thoughts too. Wow, I didn't realize that our Thanksgiving was so local. I always thought of it as more universal!

  6. Pam, I love the imagery you use to compare the Festival of Booths to our relationship with Jesus. I'm always intrigued to learn more about the ancient Jewish practices, festivals, etc. It broadens my understanding of God's sometimes very mysterious ways.


  7. Thank you Marcia. Yes! I'm intrigued by their festivals, too, and how much we can learn about our faith from them.

  8. What a great read!

    Just today read a newsletter from a missionary who is currently out of his restricted access nation and waiting in Dubai for his family's safe passage back. He described the reaction of the people there to rain as like a combo of Christmas and Disneyland. They drove for miles for their kids to be able to play in a natural stream.

    Keeping that reaction in mind, those holey 'tents' make a lot of sense, in the way you point out.


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