Festivals were not new to God’s people when Christians began celebrating Christmas. Through Moses, God commanded His people Israel to celebrate seven annual feasts that lasted up to seven days. These were festivals of dedication and rejoicing before the LORD for blessings He bestowed upon them. They were celebrations of community shalom in the LORD.
God gave each father responsibility to lead his household in the Sabbath and the Feasts. The father stood before his family recognizing our Father in heaven, our Pater who established patria – family and community. I love this instruction:
"Celebrate the festival of booths for seven days after you bring in the products from your threshing floor and winepress, and in celebrating be happy with your son and daughter, your male and female slave, the Levite, the foreigner, the orphan, and the widow who are in your town. For seven days celebrate the festival of the LORD your God in the place the LORD chooses, because the LORD your God will bless you in all your crops and everything your do; so be sure to be happy" (Deuteronomy 16:13-17).
The Sabbath and the Feasts had been a shadow of the coming things. “Then nobody should say you are wrong in what you eat or drink or do on a festival, on the first of the month, or on a Sabbath. These have been a shadow of the coming things, but the real things are in Christ” (Colossians 2:16-17). They came when Jesus came.
After Jesus ascended into heaven, the first believers met with one another in their homes for fellowship meals called agape – feasts of love. In The Four Loves, C. S. Lewis counts agape as a selfless love, a love that was passionately committed to the well-being of the other.
"All were one at heart as they went to the temple regularly every day. They had their meals in their homes and ate their food with glad and simple hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved" (Acts 2:46-47).
Paul called such gatherings our festival.
God bless you with a Merry Christmas as you gather with family and friends.