Until about a week before the Feast of Tabernacles, I did not expect to be attending it in Redmond-Bend Oregon. I did not expect to be in the United States at all, in fact. As circumstances forced me to act very quickly and prevented me from planning to my customary level, I was placed in the position of having to trust God and simply react the best I could. The fact that things went so well (this feast belongs in the highest tier of feasts, along with 1998 Jekyll Island, 2000 Maitencillo Chile, and 2008 Mendoza Argentina) made it a rewarding experience. Despite knowing few people there, and not having the time to plan events, I was able to greatly enjoy myself, and gain a very positive view of my neighbors in the Pacific Northwest. In that light, I would like to comment on some of the elements of the Feast of Tabernacles that caught my notice.
With two exceptions, I found the messages of the Feast of Tabernacles to be quite excellent. Many of them mirrored my own thoughts (the Bible study looking at the prophetic importance of the Psalms , was particularly impressive), some of them mirrored my own life experience (one speaker told the story of his father’s childhood, which made my childhood look pleasant, not an easy task to accomplish), and others mirrored my own language as if they had been reading my blog (including a fantastic sermon the purpose and meaning of the Sabbath in the past, present, and future and another one on the duties of brethren to the body of Christ). Only two messages, one with a negative tone and the other an anti-intellectual message , fell short of outstanding. Other particularly excellent messages included the following: The opening night sermon about imagining the kingdom, two messages on the mental image of paradise and the dream of utopia, a couple of sermon messages about spiritual brides and mothers, a fantastic festival video that gave the reasons I am a member of the United Church of God . Overall, the festival messages were topical, both intellectually and emotionally deep, and resonated with my own thoughts and experiences while challenging me to think deeper about some matters. I must therefore give a great deal of praise to the ministers at this feast site, who planned and delivered excellent messages that I would have been content (even pleased) to write and give, with those two exceptions mentioned previously.
Normally, I have an idea of what kind of service I wish to do in the Feast. Last year was unusual in having so much speaking, as most years I sing and/or play the viola. This year I did not have the time to join the choir ahead of time, but seeing a shortage of tenors backing up the beginning hymns in the initial services, I decided to join the choir in the hope that none of the songs would prove too difficult to learn in the rehearsals despite the lack of ability to prepare. As was the general theme of the Feast of Tabernacles here as a whole, I was able to cope as a member of the teen/young adult and festival choirs, meeting plenty of people and giving me the opportunity to serve even at an extremely unfamiliar feast site with a minimum of time to prepare. Other minor opportunities to mix service and pleasure were available and taken.
I came to the Feast of Tabernacles at Bend knowing a handful of people fairly well, and seeing a few others that I knew relatively well also. I sought to balance my fellowship between spending time with those I already knew relatively well (some of whom I had not seen for almost a decade since my residence in Los Angeles) with getting to meet young people from the Pacific Northwest (especially those in Portland). I was able to do both thanks to being a sociable person, and due to the fact that the young adults of this region are exceptionally friendly. I had to tell my crazy story about moving from Thailand over and over again, but everyone was very friendly and outgoing and welcoming, and I look forward to getting to know the people I met at the Feast much better in the future. It is a very warm and welcoming area, one I wish I would have taken the time to know earlier. Particularly worthwhile as opportunities to fellowship were choir, house parties, and the family dance, where I got to dance with half a dozen very lovely and friendly young ladies, none of whom I had known before the Feast of Tabernacles. This is in addition to the other meals I got to spend with people talking on a regular basis. So, all things considered, it was a good debut in the Pacific Northwest in meeting people. It would have been nice to have the Young Adult Bible Study earlier, but other than that, I don’t really feel as if I missed too many opportunities to fellowship.
Redmond-Bend is a very relaxing sort of Feast site. This is not the place to come if you want lots of tourist events. However, if you want amazing scenery (the high desert and the Cascade range), good food, and opportunities to fellowship with immensely friendly and warm and serious-minded people of all ages, Redmond-Bend is a good place to go. You simply have to ask yourselves about your priorities. As I care more about people than about activities, I have no fault to find in the site, so long as the people retain their warmth and friendliness.
 I had a long conversation about this message with a close friend of mine, who pointed out that the intent of the message was not anti-intellectual but rather to reassure the audience that it did not require a great deal of erudition to understand the resurrections. Given my own sensitivities to anti-intellectual public discourse, I thought it would have been better for the speaker to avoid any kind of reference to intellectualism, and simply provide emotional comfort in the charged topic of the resurrections. This is especially true given the muddled description often provided regarding the supposed “third resurrection.”
 See my comments on the Sons of Korah in particular here: https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/10/06/the-prophetic-narrative-of-the-first-sons-of-korah-collection/