When I was young, we frequently attended the Feast of Tabernacles in Lake of the Ozarks, which had many theme-park-inspired qualities: sea planes, bumper cars, gigantic arcades, roller coasters, go-karts, the largest mini-golf courses I’ve seen anywhere on Earth—even an old-time vintage photo shop. It was easy to get preteen and teenaged Worldwide Church of God attendees excited.
After years of attending the fall holy days there with nearly 10,000 of God’s people, it was quite an adjustment as a young person to attend Philadelphia Church of God sites in places like Oklahoma City or Denver. Just a few months before the Feast of Tabernacles in 1994, I remember asking our minister why Colorado Springs had been chosen as a Feast site. His answer stuck with me: “We are going where God has placed His name.”
It wasn’t just a throwaway line either—I got the full explanation that day. Abraham didn’t question God’s instruction to leave his home and go. The scripture simply says that God told him to go (Genesis 12:1) and he went (verse 4).
Hebrews 11:8 adds that Abraham didn’t even know where he was going. We don’t pick our Feast sites—God personally places His name there (Deuteronomy 14:23). Deuteronomy 16:15 adds the Feast will be kept “in the place which the Lord shall choose.” He both chooses the site and places His name there. We should remember that as we flip through our planners. The question isn’t where the most magnificent waterfall is or which Feast site is most teen friendly. It is where God has placed His name and where we can be of the best service to Him.
This year, my family and I are attending the Feast of Tabernacles in our hometown—Edmond, OK—so I am preparing my children to set a fantastic example, both for God’s Family and for those in the community who encounter them during the holy days. This begins with helping my children understand that God has selected this Feast site. Attending where God’s house is located does help to make that more real—but if you are attending in Lexington, Kentucky; Tweed Heads, Australia; Perkin, El Salvador; or any other site that you see in that planner, it has been personally selected by God to provide you with the greatest Feast of Tabernacles you have ever had! If you understand that your Father in heaven personally planned this Feast for you, how could you not be excited?
The World Tomorrow Today
The main thing that establishes a World Tomorrow environment at the Feast of Tabernacles is the presence of God’s people. That list of awesomeness I wrote at the top of this article—none of it really relates to the World Tomorrow. Those things simply made the trip to the Feast of Tabernacles at Lake of the Ozarks more exciting in a physical way. The last few Feast sites I have attended featured none of those things. Similarly, many aspects of the World Tomorrow simply cannot be done today because we are still in Satan’s world. You won’t really be able to pose with a lion and scratch the big fellow’s chin.
So what should you be anticipating? How about more time with fellow teens? Certainly for teens who rarely see other teens in God’s Church, it’s easy to view the Feast this way. In moderation, that is fine, but spending time with the spiritual family should not be to the exclusion of your own physical family. Also, the spiritual family includes everyone attending—not just those you remember from pyc. Specially prepare yourself to interact with the elderly at your site. Extend your right hand to the person to shake hands, shake the person’s hand for a reasonable amount of time (about 1 to 3 seconds), and say something to the effect of: “My name is Peter Piper, and I’m from Omaha, Nebraska,” using your actual name and hometown. Or Peter Piper’s.
You should also anticipate the opportunities you will have to serve at the Feast, whether it is as an usher, in a choir, in used clothing, in handicapped aid—any way you are planning to serve God’s Family.
You will spend a great deal of the Feast in services, and that too is cause for anticipation. We receive more messages from God’s apostle and the rest of the ministry at the Feast of Tabernacles than at any other time of year. We will have the opportunity to hear live special music, which can be a rarity for many of our scattered brethren.
Ambassadors in the Community
You can also look forward to serving the community as a light of God’s way of life. This was easier to do in wcg days with the vast number of Feastgoers in these tourist towns. With nearly 10,000 attendees in Lake of the Ozarks, the community went to considerable trouble to welcome us. Signs welcoming thousands of God’s people were prominently posted in front of every hotel, restaurants would import beef pepperoni especially for us, and there was a sense that something special had happened to the town—and it had. God’s Feast of Tabernacles had arrived, invigorating the local economy and bringing an excitement to the community that the city surely lacked the rest of the year. Many of those who were raised in God’s Church—like my wife, who attended the Feast in Big Sandy—can tell similar stories about the Church’s profound impact on the community.
With the power of numbers less on our side in the pcg, it is up to us to set a godly, millennial example for the community. You might be the only representation of God’s Family that some community members see this year! We are ambassadors to those people of God’s way of life.
God’s Family Feast
Because this is God’s Family Feast, we want to view how we spend our time at the Feast in those terms. There is nothing wrong with going to a water park or walking through a mall, but that isn’t what you should be most anticipating. Even though we went to many of the activities listed above in Lake of the Ozarks—and I do distinctly remember many of them—here are a few of the things I remember most.
I remember Family Day, which was set up entirely by God’s people on location at the site—and spent with my family. This day represents the sort of God Family lifestyle that everyone will live in the coming World Tomorrow. I distinctly remember the Behind the Work films from wcg days, seeing the Little Ambassadors of Shanghai welcome the pastor general, seeing Mr. Armstrong take possession of the airplane he would use to take the gospel message to leaders around the world. I distinctly remember the film the year he died, showing his legacy and his impact on the world. I remember the satellite transmissions that connected over 100,000 wcg members around the world for God’s holy day. I remember attending special music and choir rehearsals, participating in children’s choirs, and breaking down chairs after services. I remember the astounding difficulty—impossibility really—of finding anyone at a Feast site with nearly 10,000 brethren without a prearranged meeting spot. Except for that last one, these are all the sort of memories that you should be forming at the Feast: memories of spending time with God’s Family, learning to fear the Eternal together (Deuteronomy 14:23), and picturing the coming utopia that Jesus Christ will establish at His return with His Bride by His side.
This year, we are attending God’s Family Feast that He has specially prepared for us, and He is preparing those same sorts of millennial activities to give us a better vision of the World Tomorrow—and He will do that for every pcg Feast site on Earth. As you walk up to the opening night service, greatly rejoice that you have the opportunity to attend the Feast of Tabernacles where God has placed His name.