by Norman Edwards
In our Feast 2002 we “ate before the Lord our God” and “learned to fear the Lord our God always” (Deut 14:22–23 — see front-page article in Jan/Feb 2002 issue for the Feast 2002 plans). The Feast plans were never completed. Prior to the Feast, I was almost completely unable to work due to a swollen sore throat that almost stopped me from breathing numerous times. I think there were some things that God wanted me to learn, and I hope I learned them. But also, the time I had hoped to spend Feast planning was taken up by the sore throat. I was not able to organize the meals or other events in any significant way before the Feast. Fortunately a couple of brethren decided to call me to tell me that they were coming early to help.
I recovered about three days before the Feast, rented a truck, and loaded up the audio-visual equipment. On Thursday afternoon my wife, one son and I went to Sam’s Club and Gordon’s Food Service. We bought food until the stores closed—nearly filling the truck, but not quite getting everything we needed. It was pouring down rain—making it difficult to get cardboard boxes from the store to the truck without ruining them. My son and I went to the Feast site that night and unloaded the frozen and refrigerated things into the walk-in freezer and refrigerator.
|when people work willingly, the job gets done|
The next morning, some help had arrived, and we went about the business of setting up the kitchen and hall. This included running wires between buildings so that the sound from our services could be sent to our kitchen staff as well as a telephone which was used to connect a small group in Canada. The rest of the food and supplies were unloaded, but there was not a definite menu planned.
Through the great co-operation of many people, and the blessing of God, we were ready for our first meeting Friday night, and the meals on the Sabbath were wonderful. I could begin to start thanking individual people, but I would not know when to stop, because nearly everyone helped in some necessary way.
This must be very similar to the way it was when Israel left Egypt. Moses led the way, God protected them, but the people had to tend to the many individual duties moving themselves, their animals and their belongings. Moses could not tend to every mishap along the way. But when people work willingly, the job gets done.
God did His part—we had rain two days before the Feast and the day after, but none during the Feast. This was important, since one had to walk outside between cabins, rest rooms, services and dining hall. He also supplied us with people able to plan and supervise the meals, and workers willing to do the jobs. Nearly everyone agreed that the food was excellent—the brethren really enjoyed getting to know each other during the preparation, eating, and cleaning up. Only a comparatively small amount of additional food and supplies were needed.
While we were not completely self-sufficient, it was encouraging to know that there were no non-Feast people working full-time to serve us. This is looking forward to the time when “ the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isa 11:9). Everyone will keep the Feast and there will be no group of people who have to work through the Feast to serve others.
Even most of our recreation took place on campus. While several recreational opportunities were available, floor hockey in the camp gym turned out to be the young people’s favorite. The talent show went so well that most of the people present requested copies of the video made of it—some wanted to show it to their friends. (This is somewhat of a contrast to a few other Feast talent shows I have witnessed where people were trying to forget them.) A Karaoke night was also well received.
Time for Thanks Recorded at the Feast
But in many ways, the highlight of this Feast, and what made it unique was the time we took during services to write down all of the things for which the members were thankful. That list was later distilled into a shorter list, then written into verse by a variety of people, then put to music. A good half of this work was done by those in their teens and early 20s.
The song was then printed, recorded and played for the congregation. They learned it by listening, and after several practices we recorded everyone in the congregation who wanted to sing along. Later, we added harmony parts, violin, cello, vibes, chimes and a guitar solo. This was in addition to background accompaniment of piano, guitar, bass and drums. One of the teenagers did the final mix-down, and then CDs were produced for everyone at the Feast—thanks to a borrowed mass CD-burner.
The name of the song is Time for Thanks. The CD also includes another song recorded at the Feast. Run With Patience was written and sung by Darrell and Dustin West. The third track is an interactive study on “God’s Love” given by Terry Williams with a few ending comments by Norman Edwards.
We would like to provide a copy of the CD to anyone who wants to listen to it. However, we do not have a mass CD duplicator. (A good used one that prints on the CD costs about $1,000). We hope that those who ask for one will help with costs if they can. It is possible we could borrow a duplicator, but we still need to buy the CDs and pay for shipping. In any case, we will accept and keep track of requests for this CD and send them as we are able.
Evidence of Mature Believers
In the process of working on the recordings, I was not able to attend all of the Bible studies presented by other teachers at our Feast. Some of the prophetic concepts presented were new and many of the brethren listening did not agree with them. Evidence of spiritual maturity abounded. It seems that nearly all of the brethren avoided the three major signs of immaturity in group Bible study:
|the brethren really enjoyed getting to know each other during the preparation, eating, and cleaning up|
1. Accepting a new teaching without question.
2. Getting angry with the teacher.
3. Walking out and refusing to communicate.
Instead, they went to the Scriptures and peaceably showed where they believed the teaching to be incorrect. The teachers and all the brethren learned a lot from this process. Nearly everyone continued to talk to each other and get along with each other after the study had concluded.
It does seem that many independent believers are coming to grips with the fact that we just do not all have the same knowledge of God and His way. That does not mean that there is “contradictory truth” or that God teaches contradictory things. It means that much spiritual knowledge exists that we do not have. Christ taught His apostles for 3 years, but all we have is the New Testament which one can read in a few days. He reveals truth by His Spirit and through His prophets, but there are a great many false prophets and false teachers and people who think they have a revelation by the Spirit which they do not.
Many of the Epistles are corrections to believers. Their writers did not say, “because you had these errors in the past, you were not part of the church.” Nor did they say, anyone who does not accept all of our correction as soon as they hear it is no longer a believer. Rather, everyone was encouraged to repent of sin and to change to accept truth. Only the deliberately deceitful or sinful were told to leave the congregations.
Today we do not have apostles—so all believers do not agree on everything. But we can still all want to be teachable, all want to know, all be willing to change when we are wrong, and all work together on that basis.
Also, one individual visited our Feast, who had been known to cause some difficulties for other brethren in the past. A few thought he should be asked to leave, but others tried to get to know him to see if he needed help—and to see if he was in any way dangerous. Seeing that there was no present problem, no action was taken and no difficulties occurred. When God’s people repent, they need to be accepted into His Church.
The 2002 Feast of Tabernacles at Hastings also included several examples of people helping each other when it was needed—fixing cars, helping the sick, etc. There were probably many more I did not know about. God knows about them all. I think we are all greatly looking forward to the Feast in 2003.