Today I spent a fair bit of time this afternoon both going to and from a place where more than sixty of t he people who went to the Feast of Tabernacles in Anchorage, Alaska. This place happened to be a working farm full of exotic animals, some of which at least could be fed and were by myself and others. It is not hard to understand the appeal of reindeer, who are after all just domesticated caribou, and who are surprisingly small but also somewhat aggressive when it comes to being fed. Far less aggressive are alpacas, who are surprisingly laid back when it comes to dealing with people. It was interesting as well to note that while we could feed the moose (which, interestingly enough, Alaska does not allow people to own or breed), yaks are so hazardous that the farm we went to refuses to breed them because of concerns about staff being gored by the moody and unpredictable and very large animals, who nonetheless are remarkably chill much of the time.
One of the notable themes that has come to my attention has been the aspect of spiritual feeding. It is not uncommon for me to think about physical food when it comes to the feast–I am often both hungry and thirsty, as I often comment. That said, spiritual food is also one of the notable aspects of the Feast of Tabernacles, and it is remarkable just how often this has become an issue. While the spiritual food at services has been a notable high point for me and other people, its absence has also been notable in conversation. For example, some friends of ours came to opening night service despite attending with another fellowship, because that fellowship did not apparently have opening night services at the Feast of Tabernacles elsewhere in the city, which struck me as puzzling. Less puzzling but no less disappointing was the news that some feast sites had been shut down for days on end because of covid outbreaks that forced services to be cancelled. Our expectation to fulfill the command to assemble is not always easy to do in an age where such gatherings are feared as being fertile ground for contagion.
One of the aspects about yesterday’s sermon that struck me as the most intriguing was the question of how it is that we are going to meet the needs of people in the early part of the world to come. We live in a world that is not always aware of the hunger that it has. People far wiser than I am have commented that we have a God-shaped hole in our heart and we tend to fill it with things that waste our time and effort. This is lamentable, but perhaps not surprising. A great many people find themselves hungering for things that actively do them harm–drugs, alcohol, and the like. Still others find themselves gluttons, feeding for emotional release, or people whose appetites in general are unrestrained and cause trouble for themselves and for others. It is by no means an easy thing to be able to help others, and in a world where so many hungers cry out to be fed, it is hard to know how to encourage people to feed off of that which proceeds from the mouth of God, for we do not live by meat alone, or alfalfa pellets alone.