Leaders build. Last week we saw that in this pandemic and during so many other struggles, leaders build a sanctuary in time. Continuing to live in these unique and, at times, overwhelming times, leaders need to create a community of joy.
Deep in our roots is a feast that is the greatest of all feasts. This feast lasts for seven days and is the most joyful, celebrative of all the feasts. At this feast, God commands celebration. Celebrate for seven days!
Wonderfully, Zechariah tells us that this most joyful, celebrative feast will be part of the world when God fully establishes his kingdom (Zechariah 14). It is the feast we celebrate when Jesus returns and turns the cosmos right-side up.
The feast is the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot). The people celebrated the wonderful reality; God was with them. Sukkot went for days when Israel was wandering in the desert, living in tents, making their way to the promised land—and as they did, God was with them. God was in a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Each day they looked out of the tent flap and saw the symbol of God’s presence: manna. Because God was with them, they had nothing to fear. Because God was with them, he would provide for them.
In Jesus’ day, on the last and greatest day of the feast, there was an elaborate water ceremony (John 7). Water was drawn and brought to the temple. As the water made its way to the temple, thousands of people lined the streets and waved palm branches. All of these waving palm branches made the sound of a rainstorm. Then the priest took the water and poured it out on the altar—a prayer for God to send rain so that again the earth would produce food and the people would again celebrate God’s provision and, more than that, celebrate that God was with them.
The grand celebration of Sukkot is that God is with and provides for his people.
On the last and greatest day of the feast, as the water ceremony is happening, Jesus stands up, declaring that he is the true living water.
In our day, we celebrate Immanuel, God with us. Immanuel declared that he is living water on the last and greatest day of the feast.
Leaders build a community of joy that celebrates that God is with us. He cares for us. He provides for us.
No matter what the pandemic may bring—God is with us.
No matter what trials come our way—God is with us.
No matter what struggles we face— God is with us.
Leaders build this community of joy and gladness.
Notice it is a community of joy, not simply individuals who have joy. Leaders know that God’s actual work begins with establishing a community of joy. That joy then washes over into the lives of individuals.
When we ask ourselves at this moment, “What am I building?” may one part of the answer be “a community of joy.”