Our very first church-wide Zoom service was held on Friday, 9 October, in commemoration of the Feast of Tabernacles which we celebrate yearly. More than 720 tuned in, joining in as a family or with cell members who gathered physically in small groups. It was both groundbreaking and heartening to reunite virtually with so many familiar faces after all these months, and to have our friends from seven other nations join us online.
REUNITING HEARTS IN A VIRTUAL SPACE
Anchored by hosts for the evening, Pastors Elijah Chan and Lynette Li, the 90-minute Zoom service opened joyously, with Zoom participants waving flags designed to the ‘Overflow’ theme. These had been snail-mailed a week earlier to homes. More than 720 participants tuned in, gathered with family and in small groups.
Forever He is glorified, Forever He is lifted high!
Before the start of worship, children were dancing with the flags. More did so during the time of praise and worship session led by Ps Caleb Garcia. A quick scroll across the Zoom platform pages and you could see that many were deep in worship, standing, kneeling, moving with arms lifted and eyes shut. Covid-19 may have muted us, but a loud cry of worship resounded across our airwaves in every home!
Worship flowed seamlessly to a contemporary dance item bathed in hues of streaming blue lighting which reflected the banner design. Generations Youths, Rebecca Goh and Shania Chen described in movement how the Holy Spirit is able to fill us as vessels to overflowing.
NO BOUNDARIES IN SPIRIT
Having a ‘live’ guest speaker able to cross the boundaries of geographical space and into our presence was one of the best things we discovered in this ‘new normal’ virtual platform.
A dear friend of Cornerstone’s, Peter Tsukahira, joined us ‘live’ all the way from Mount Carmel, City of Haifa, Israel to celebrate Cornerstone’s Feast of Tabernacles this year.
If you are wondering what the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) really is about, it is the last of seven annual Jewish feasts, and takes place at the end of fall to celebrate the ingathering of a harvest (Leviticus 23:40-43).
The reason we celebrate it yearly in Cornerstone was reiterated by Ps Peter , that Sukkot is a Feast for all nations, not only in this age, but in the age to come!
UNDERSTAND THE MESSAGE IN AGRICULTURE
Sukkot is an agricultural holiday. Ps Peter had brought with him samples of the etrog, the fruit of the citron tree, the date palm branch, the leafy branch of the Myrtle tree, and a branch from the Willow tree online to show us what they look like. These are what the Jews wave within the tent (sukka) as part of what was ceremonially instructed of them in Leviticus 23.
Sukkot occurs at the beginning of a very hot and dry weather condition across the land, and everyone looks forward to the coming rains from November to December. The longing for rain is so great because the absence of it would affect the following year’s needed crops.
HEAR THE WATERS OVERFLOW
One of the ceremonies of this feast is the ‘water libation’ (pouring of the water) ceremony where water, being poured out, symbolises the yearning for an overflow of rain, well water and rivers. Ps Peter pointed out the significance and prophetic connection in the theme – Overflow – which Ps Daphne chose for this year’s celebration.
In Psalm 37:3, Ps Tsukahira described why faith, like agriculture, must be cultivated. ‘Live in the land and cultivate faithfulness’. Unlike the act of hunting, agricultural work requires farmers to work together in the long farming process. We, too, must learn to cultivate our dependence on God through hardwork and team endeavour.
LOOK BEYOND PRESENT HARDSHIP
In Hebrews 11:8, Ps Peter explained that by faith, Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and left for a foreign land. He wandered and accepted a nomadic life because of an inheritance - a land that was promised to him. We too have been grafted into the nomadic journey. Like Abraham, what helps us endure as we look beyond the difficulties and frailties, is faith.
He also touched on 2 Corinthians 5:1, which tells us that our physical bodies are as earthly tents facing the hardships of earthly suffering but there is a place in eternity that is being prepared for us. We need to have a vision that calls us beyond this life to a City with foundations. This is the meaning of dwelling in the Sukka tents for a week during this Feast.
Ps Peter showed from John 7:37 that Jesus was most probably standing on the Southern steps, during the Feast of Tabernacles, in the midst of thousands, hundreds of thousands, when He cried out to anyone who was thirsty to ‘Come to Me and drink’. Everyone who was present would have well understood the meaning of the pouring out of water. Jesus was saying that ‘if you are really thirsty, if you believe, out of your being will flow the Holy Spirit, like rivers of living water’. And you will be able to dwell in the land and cultivate it.
A FEAST TO CELEBRATE IN ETERNITY
The Feast of Tabernacles is also an eternal feast, and not just for the present life, explained Ps Peter. Zechariah 14:16-17 is a prophetic picture of the end times. Everyone who is left shall keep the Feast of Tabernacles, and whichever families do not, there will be no rain.
Revelations 21:3 is a prophetic picture of every tongue, tribe, and nation coming together to worship under one King, Jesus. And both Jews and Gentile will be together in attendance at this particular feast!
The Sukkot week is a time to renew our faith in Yeshua, and say to God, ‘I’d like to camp out with You’. For ‘out of my faith I want to flow rivers of living water no matter what disruptions,’ with reference to the deep challenges this year. ‘I want to cultivate faithfulness with You. Help us as a community to enter in. And there will be new life!’
CLOSING IN PRAYER
Our papa of the house, Pastor Yang took a few minutes with us to point out that it was during the Feast of Tabernacles in the Old Testament that God chose, three times, to make His presence known. The first was when King Solomon dedicated the Temple, and the glory of God came. Another time in the book of Haggai, in the days of Zerubbabel, God’s tangible presence appeared, and He encouraged His people. And again, in Nehemiah chapter 8 during the Feast, which was followed by great repentance, the public reading of scripture and public worship.
‘We are living in the most privileged time,’ our Senior Pastor reminded us. ‘The greatest farmer that the world has ever known is going to embark on the greatest grand harvest at the end of the age.’ He then prayed for this outpouring of God’s Spirit on earth.
THE FESTIVE AIR
As we closed the Zoom service, the festive air lingered. And children and families were seen still dancing and waving the flags in our shared virtual hall.