It is a difficult matter to judge a feast such as this one was. I will try not to give an overall grade or rating to this feast, because I am not sure how to weight the various components, because they were across the board. Instead, what I will do is take some important factors of the Feast of Tabernacles and assign them a letter grade and give a short explanation of how that letter grade was earned. The particular factors come in no particular order, except as they come to mind, unless there is an obvious link between one factor and the next one, and that I put the most important factor (spiritual) first. With that said, let us begin:
This was a fantastic feast as far as the spiritual elements were concerned. To be sure, the theme of the messages (see below) was unconventional, but the messages were all powerful and all particularly relevant to where I was during the feast, and it seemed that many others were in agreement with me there. Not only were the messages good, but there were a lot of practical lessons in spiritual matters to be learned at the feast. It was pretty obvious to me that I was exactly where God wanted me to be, and that so was everyone else, even if I felt a little bit like Job sometimes, in feeling the sentiment expressed in Job 13:15: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him.” While I’m not sure it is necessary to defend my ways before God, this was a feast whose ultimate verdict will be in the realm of trust, to find out exactly what God is doing, because the messages made it pretty clear to me that there is a plan involved, and that I really have no idea what I’m doing.
The grade for this component is an average of the two themes of the feast. The first theme, the theme of the messages of this feast, is an A+, although it was an unconventional theme. Over and over again, messages dealt with the present suffering that believers as well as the world at large have to endure in this world (and there was plenty of that this year for me ). While this is a bit unconventional for the event, which usually seeks to focus on the wonderful world tomorrow and forgetting the problems of day-to-day life, this was the sort of feast where I could not escape the problems and anxieties of my existence, and therefore it was very good for me that the messages acknowledged those difficulties and at least posed difficult questions that will allow me to continue to wrestle with such matters. The second theme, the theme of the feast in terms of my personal experience, though, gets an F, because that theme was anxiety and stress. Words cannot express how stressful this feast was for me. Every day something happened, and usually multiple things happened, that made me feel particularly alarmed, whether it was being followed around or stared at by someone, or having people circle me or ask me awkward questions (see “Romance” below). I am aware that because of my difficult life history that I am prone to high degrees of anxiety and nervousness, and there is not much I can do about that, but when it is less stressful to play an offertory on less than a week’s notice and perform a capella in front of audiences of a couple hundred (at least) with less than a day’s notice than it is to simply go to services or sit down and watch the fun show or spend time at a family dance, then something has gone horribly wrong. And indeed, something did.
I don’t feel it would be fair for me to give a grade for the music, because I was involved in so much of it, and am a bit concerned that others would consider me a bit of a showoff for doing so much. The choir performed four times, singing “classics” all four times, and I did a solo viola for offertory as well as a reprise of two special music numbers from my local congregational repertoire, one for the seventh day of the feast and the other for the family fun show. That said, I would like to give praise to various other acts. The music at the family fun show was, for the most part, very well done even if somewhat at the last minute (as usual). Today there was an excellent piano solo offertory and two excellent special music performances (one of them a Ukrainian male quartet that sang in Ukrainian, English, and Moldovan). Yesterday there was also a really great performance of “On Eagle’s Wings” by a young lady as well. Still, I don’t feel very comfortable grading myself, although the choir director and pianist get an A+, for what it’s worth.
Romance: F- (at least for me)
Alright, so I wish this was not a factor that had to be taken into consideration, but as a single young man whose feast was greatly impacted in several ways by that status, I feel it necessary to point out how a feast site gets this grade. First of all, when half a dozen people ask you if you are dating the married woman you are friends with whose three adorable children spent so much time around you, that is going to cause some stress. When you add to that people coming out of the woodwork and telling you that they are praying for you to find a wife, when one is already rather understandably concerned about such a matter, that will not help matters either. I happened to see a fair amount of flirtation as well as romance around me, and I encouraged and celebrated it. At heart, I’m a romantic and I like to see a little bit of love and happiness in love in this world. I just wish I could find it for myself.
Alright, I don’t want to embarrass anyone by name, since a lot of people are a bit chary about being mentioned in my blog (for understandable reasons), but I wanted to give a shoutout to my friends for helping to keep me sane this feast. Whether it was in providing me with occasional distractions from my obvious distress, or listening to me in daily (or sometimes several times daily) efforts at encouragement, or in sitting with me during services to make things a little less lonely, or in dragging me out on a dance floor when I’m feeling more than a bit down, you all know who you are, and consider yourselves appreciated. This is the sort of feast that would have been miserable without so many good deeds done by friends. I was even able to meet a few new people I didn’t know who also deserve to be recognized and appreciated for having made the feast a better experience.
When one is having a feast where one’s emotions and moods are definitely not in the right place, sometimes it is better to focus on what one can give to others if one is not feeling well. This was definitely a feast where I got a lot of enjoyment at the appreciation of others for service. Quite honestly, I needed to feel appreciated, and just about every day I found service to be a way to spend time where I was focused on something outside of myself (which helped a lot), as well as providing an often necessary distraction from some of the more unwelcome aspects of this feast. Whether it was serving in music, being an alternate usher, or helping out for Family Day in volleyball, I got a lot of enjoyment out of serving others. This is generally the case, but this feast in particular I needed the focus on others.
 See, for example: