We are in the days between Unleavened Bread and Shavuot. Many are marking the days as they count the omer according to the Biblical instruction to, “count fifty days” (Lev. 23:16). The counting is good, but perhaps how we count will make our living testimony incredibly better.
The three “ascension feasts,” where all males are commanded to go up to Jerusalem (Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot), all require a great deal of preparation. We begin preparing for Passover weeks prior to the actual day. The Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) also requires a great deal of advance planning and organizing. Now, imagine the day when we are all going up to Jerusalem for these special appointed times (moedim). How much preparation will that take? Whatever the amount, we know that it involves physical and spiritual preparation – in advance of the appointed time. It seems as though the preparation for Shavuot is more spiritual and attitudinal than physical.
"You shall count seven weeks for yourself; you shall begin to count seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain. "Then you shall celebrate the Feast of Weeks to Yahweh your God with a tribute of a freewill offering of your hand, which you shall give just as Yahweh your God blesses you; and you shall rejoice before Yahweh your God, you and your son and your daughter and your male and female servants and the Levite who is in your town, and the stranger and the orphan and the widow who are in your midst, in the place where Yahweh your God chooses to establish His name.” (Deuteronomy 16:9-11).
You can see that in connection with the upcoming feast of Shavuot - the Feast of Weeks, there is a specific instruction to rejoice. This word in Hebrew (samach) has a connotation of giving happiness or making someone else joyful. For many today, making someone else joyful can be a difficult assignment. There is so much surrounding us that seeks to pull us down. Some days it is tough enough just to get ourselves joyful, let alone someone else. Then we pile on our own penchant for perfecting our feast gatherings, and the various debates within our communities, and being full of joy becomes difficult.
So, I humbly suggest that we prepare for rejoicing at Shavuot now. Let the days of counting also be days of rejoicing – purposely bringing joy to someone else. I challenge you to find some way to bring happiness and joy to one person each day until Shavuot. It may be in small ways or big ways. For instance, you may simply be super nice to the bank teller or the person working the counter at the fast food restaurant. See if you can get them to laugh. Be a little creative. Stretch a bit. Push yourself. Heck, you might even try getting silly – it might do you some good.
Maybe you want to invest a little more in your rejoicing. Send some flowers to someone who has blessed you, or perhaps even to someone you are a bit sideways with. Try to infuse all those around you with joy. Let them see you dance and praise the God of all creation. Let your light become a beacon of love and hope. Don’t be afraid to stand out in the crowd – do something “over the top” to get the joyful juices flowing.
That’s right; find someone to give joy to every day. It will become habit forming. It will change you into a better person. You will start to attract people. People will want to know why you are so joyful. Then you can tell them all about Shavuot and your journey. But tell them with joy!
Then as you head into Shavuot, you will not have to create some artificial joy, you will bring real joy to the celebration. You will already be in a state of rejoicing. You can start right now. Think of three things you have to rejoice about. Keep them in the front of your mind. Let those reflections change your attitude. Then look for more, they are all around you. Start preparing for Shavuot right now. Just stop reading for a few minutes, reflect, and make a choice to start spreading joy. Practice on the next person you see.
Imagine if our walk became known for its joy. What would happen? How quickly would folks find us? In a world that is swirling in sin and darkness, our joyfulness should stand out like a bright light. Let’s stop hanging out heads, majoring on the minor details, and instead start spreading joy and happiness.
We all have much to be joyful about. Take a minute and think of all our Elohim has done for you. Think of all the blessings in your life. Then, get happy and spread some joy. You can do it and you can do it today. Let these days of counting become your days of rejoicing. May your preparation for Shavuot be full of joy, and may it become infectious, as we impact the world on behalf of our King. Let our days of rejoicing begin!