October is here. Pumpkins are on display in every store and in many homes with more to come in the following weeks. We might even get some crisp weather soon, and my fridge already contains apple cider (which Aiden keeps accidently requesting as “appetizer.”)
I like October. It’s probably because it heralds the celebration of my birth and cooler weather, but I think it’s also because it is a month in which hospitality seems to be at the forefront of our minds.
This month there will be decorations and parties, get togethers and for many of us more knocks on our doors than we may have combined all year.
As a kid I was fascinated by the concept of Halloween parties. What fun to abandon any self absorbed concept of ourselves, dress up, and enjoy other people around us. I imagine that the festival of booths in Jesus’s day may have been a bit like Halloween. It is still celebrated beginning the 15th day of Tishrei which this year overlaps the Gregorian calendar beginning October 4. Israel shares a very similar latitude with us north of the equator, so the weather in Israel was likely experiencing similar changes to what we have here in Mississippi. While people did not dress up, they did build open air sukkah (type of dwelling exposed to the elements) which they decorated with seasonal produce. They gathered together and celebrated as harvest was upon them.
They celebrated that God had brought them through the wilderness in in dwellings as fragile as the ones in which they now celebrated, and they celebrated that God was still providing in the harvest that they had just gathered. It is in this context that Jesus sat and spoke to those gathered around saying, ““You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:15-16).
Jesus would have been surrounded by light peeking through those makeshift dwellings, seeing soft glimmers not unlike the glimmers of Jack o’laterns whose light and toothy smile represent that which drives away the bad. We are hosts to Christ’s light. May we continue to share it with our world as the best treat.