February 16 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a day of Sabbath rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the Lord.” ~Leviticus 23:3

Leviticus 23 reads like a layperson’s calendar.[1] The Festivals, or God-Fests as I like to call them, provided a rhythm of work, rest, worship, and celebration throughout the year. Israel’s year began in the spring (around March/April on a modern calendar) with Passover, a weeklong celebration reminding God’s people that they had been saved out of Egypt. The week included a “Firstfruits Festival,” since grain harvesting began in the early spring, to celebrate God providing for daily needs throughout the year. Fifty days later (modern-day May/June), the Feast of Weeks marked the full grain harvest. Special days punctuated the calendar, including the Day of Atonement, the annual day of circumspection and confession. The year culminated with the joyous Feast of Tabernacles. Everyone camped out for a week of fun (imagine Woodstock for Jesus!) to remember their days of wilderness wanderings and to rejoice in their arrival in the land of promise.

What a festive bunch! Their celebrations centered around worship, which was woven into the fabric of the community thanks to their detailed calendar. Worship was scheduled, planned, and observed often and with great fanfare! There was singing, worship, dancing, eating, remembering, and connecting with friends and family. All in celebration of God. God saved them, provided for them, watched over them, and gave them a home.

I wonder sometimes whether we celebrate enough.   Sure, celebrating what God has done can be spontaneous; I’m all for that. But just because something is scheduled and planned doesn’t make it “routine” (in the worst sense of the word). I know a retired pastor who schedules five days a year for a winter retreat with close friends. He’s been doing it for 30 years, and the “routine” is rich with meaning! It is a celebration of friendship and God’s blessings, a time to pray together, worship together, and encourage one another. And, as he would tell you, if he didn’t plan it, this rich, meaningful time of celebration wouldn’t happen. Life gets busy, and it’s so easy for the urgent things to crowd out the important things.

Have you woven times of celebration into your life, beginning with the celebration of your salvation every Sunday? It is good news that Jesus came to announce; we should celebrate it at least once a week (Mk. 1:14). Do you have other scheduled times of celebration throughout the year? Perhaps it’s time that we re-think vacation. Rather than emptying it of anything related to normal life, why not turn it into a week of worship? A time to rejoice in rest, blessing, fun, and the close friends who might go along. When we celebrate births, special days, etc., is God in our hearts and on our lips? He is the one who has given us everything. We need to celebrate Him and His good gifts more often. In fact, we should put Him on the calendar!

[1] The NIV Study Bible contains a nice chart of feasts and sacred days. Also, the New Bible Commentary has a very simple explanation of each feast. Both books are included in the Resource section of the Lectio Divina website.

Lectio Divina  is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of  Calvary Church  in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of  A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.