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Creating Family Holidays

Jeremy:
Today, we want to talk to you guys a little bit about rethinking the idea of biblical holidays.

One of the things that if you grew up in Christian circles, there’s lots of holidays that, obviously, we have that are part of the Christian calendar, that are part of our culture. But one of the things that I always found really challenging as a dad is, how do I design a holiday that’s actually going to teach my kids spiritual lessons? So many of the holidays have become commercialized.

I love celebrating all of the normal, typical holidays that American or Western culture likes to celebrate that are part of the Christian calendar, but one of the things I’d never thought about is the idea of biblical holidays. The fact is God designed a whole curriculum for how to train children in the Bible, and families. Just looking at that for ideas is where I started.

I first encountered biblical holidays when I was a student in Jerusalem. I was 23. I had no kids. I watched all these dads get to interact with their own kids around spiritual topics every year during the different holidays, and I was blown away. So I started thinking about “Oh, is this something that we as Gentiles could actually learn from? Is there stuff there that we might be able to use that could be awesome for our family?”

Jeff, how have you thought about this topic?

Jeff:
Yeah, obviously, you guys are a couple decades ahead of us, but same heart and same… I think, for me, I got two thoughts there. The first one is there’s a lot of pushback when we talk… I would say even Sabbath is a holiday, I think in a micro way, and then I think there’s big feast, festival ones in a yearly way.

What pushback we get a lot when we talk about this with friends is they’ll say things like, “Oh, it sounds…” Not religious. They don’t use that word. But “It sounds stuffy. It sounds like…” “I just don’t want to…” “It sounds good, and I’ll do it, but I’m not going to commit. I’m not going to actually set that day aside. I’m not going to actually do that every single time.” Then sometimes they do toss in something of like “Oh, that sounds kind of legalistic or religious or stuffy or strict.”

For me, that right there is a smokescreen that you miss the point of the holidays. The holidays is actually to feel and infuse your life and your family with joy and meaning and depth and richness. All the things you just said about stuffy, strict, etc., Christmas and Thanksgiving are no different. Have you noticed we never… You don’t wake up December 25th and go, “I’m not feeling it today. Let’s do it…”

Jeremy:
You’re so religious. You celebrate Christmas every December 25th.

Jeff:
Every December 25th.

Jeremy:
You Pharisee!

Jeff:
Yeah, and you don’t wake up and go, “Eh, let’s do it the 29th this year,” like “Who cares? Let’s just do it in a couple days.” No one actually does that.

We’re very strict with our traditions that do bring us depth and richness and meaning. I just think they’re… And they’re good. Like you said, we celebrate all of the American ones, but I will argue that they’re shallow. They’re fine, but they’re shallow. There is a level of depth that we can get to with biblical God-created holidays, not man-made holidays, but I have nothing against the man-made ones.

I just usually tell that to people. I usually just say, “You are religious about holidays. You are strict about holidays. You set aside a day. You take work off. You have a certain meal that you cook every single time. Holidays are about putting anchor points in our moments, and I think we really miss out on the really big ones that God’s done for us or given to us.”

Jeremy:
Yeah. It’s been really rich to look at these. I agree with what Jeff’s saying. I don’t think there’s any judgment around these. A lot of people, they start the conversation, “Do I have to keep those holidays?”

Jeff:
Yeah, that’s exactly. Yeah, that’s the way they say it.

Jeremy:
The answer is absolutely not. It says right in Colossians 2, Paul says, “Let no one judge you based on the Sabbath day or a sacred day or a holiday.” Holidays, in the New Testament, Paul made it clear it is a complete no-judgment zone. You’re not allowed to judge one another.

That’s why the way I think about this is purely as a curriculum for dads and moms and people who want to train their families, and so to try to begin to think about… It’s difficult to find different ways of training your families. There are all these major feasts in the Torah that God designed. There’s the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Passover, First Fruits, Shavuot, or what we call Pentecost. There is Yom Teruah, or what Jews today called Rosh Hashanah. Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. And then Sukkot, which is the Feast of Tabernacles.

Those are seven holidays that the Bible talks about, and they all have beautiful meaning and have a lot of interesting parts. For us as a family, we have dove into each one in different ways and tried to figure out “Is there something here, some richness that we want to get ahold of?”

In other podcasts, we’ll talk about maybe different ways of celebrating each one, but we just wanted you guys to take a step back and think about “Hey, here’s a tool that’s right in the Bible. It’s in the Torah. People have been celebrating them for thousands of years, and there might be some richness there.” Another thing to just keep in mind is that every time they’re referred to, they’re never referred to as Jewish holidays. Another thing a lot of people say is “Oh, those are Jewish holidays.” The Jewish people have been very faithful in their holding onto those traditions and celebrating those holidays, but the way the Bible talks about them is they’re the festivals of the Lord. I love the idea that we get to meet with Him and get to experience something that our Heavenly Father designed.

Those are some of the reasons why I think it’s fun to look at these. But again, no judgment. If you’re parents who are thinking about “Where can we look for curriculum? We can go on Amazon and type something in like ‘how to train your kids spiritually’ or ‘different storybook Bibles,'” and those are all awesome. A lot of people will just skip over the fact that there’s one right in the Old Testament in the Torah.

Jeff:
Yeah, that’s usually what I tell people, is I say, “You can invent your own, and I know families that do. I’m just not that creative, and I’m not that awesome.” Then when people say, “Do you have to celebrate it?” I’m like, “No, you don’t. You don’t have to celebrate Christmas, but it’s freaking awesome, so you’re going to.” I love Christmas, we put up our tree like in July. You know what I mean? It’s awesome. It’s that same thing. You don’t have to at all, but it’s awesome, so let’s do it.

Jeremy:
Yeah. Awesome. Hopefully, that’s helpful. You guys can think about the fact that there’s some real richness there in the biblical holidays, and take a look at it. If you want to take a little step in that direction, usually just picking one and trying it out, and see how it works for your family.

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