Enhancing the Quality of Feast
Outline of Ideas
To see the original newsgroup posts or email messages that provided most of the following suggestions, click on this link. Ideas As Offered
- Start on time. When you tell people a concert begins at 7:30 they get there at 7:15. The same should apply for Feast. The highest virtue is courtesy.
- The entire feast is "spiritual." The three portions of Feast are called devotional, consultative, and social.
- Write individual notes to the Baha'is of your community well in advance, telling them how much they have been missed or that you would like to meet them. Handwritten and personal notes are recommended.
- Select readings several days in advance, prepare readers and allow them time, at least several hours, preferably a couple of days, to prepare themselves.
- Alternatively, notify the friends that you will be asking for their favorite readings.
- Pray, meditate, and let the Spirit guide you in selection of readings. (Referred to as "intuition," and that's all right, too.)
- When you're going to be a reader, prepare yourself hours or days in advance by reading carefully, meditating on it, and reading it again, checking yourself for pronunciation as well as voice inflection. Remember, the souls of people you love will be touched, or not, by how you read almost as much as by the words themselves.
- Provide scents - flowers, incense (not for the allergic), rose water on the hands of the arriving friends
- Use music -- live, taped, choral, performance, vocal, instrumental, folk, classic, ethnic. Use at the beginning of the Feast as a vehicle for chanting the prayers (or learning a new one!) and to introduce the social portion
- Begin a "SongFest" half an hour before Feast while people are coming in. Encourage singing along with the music
- Use live musicians if available, playing whatever instrument is appropriate or available
- Take time before the devotions begin to teach the melody of a new song and provide the words
- Encourage children to serve others and each other, say prayers, welcome the friends, contribute to the consultation, contribute to the Fund, hear a Feast story, tell a Feast story, make presentations based on their Baha'i classes, sing, dance, choose the prayers and readings and arrange the refreshments
- Bring the generations together.
- "... the host acted on the remark by 'Abdu'l-Baha (?) that at feasts, nothing more than water (or bread and water?) need be served; the feast is essentially spiritual. So for the social portion we had water (well, ice water -- it was summer) and several different breads. There may have been some butter and honey to go on the bread ... Everyone loved it."
- Use the name of the Feast, an attribute of God, as the theme for the Feast.
- Choose nine readings from the Hidden Words and ask a Persian to chant each before it is read in Enlish.
- Get the men to do clean-up, the women to lead the consultation.
- Bring photographs of community events - personal or communal.
- Tell stories, especially teaching stories
- Hug* the friends who haven't been at a recent Feast, and tell them how much they've been missed. (*with due regard to cultural and Baha'i standards)
- Shower everyone with love
Choose opening and closing prayers Prepare themed readings Introduce the host's selection of readings, identifying the theme, if any Give short exerpts from the Writings on colored cards for others Provide to everyone copies of readings on decorative paper Provide large print versions of readings to those who might benefit from them Allow children to recite or chant prayers or read from the Writings Chant prayers in any language, including English Encourage everyone to say, read or chant prayers in addition to the prepared readings Play short selections of music between readings, allowing time to meditate on the text that has just been read Use readings from as many languages as possible, from other Scriptures, from the Guardian (at the end of the devotional part), as varied in length as possible or wanted Close the devotional portion with a live rendition or a recording of "I Think You're Wonderful" while all the friends stand to greet everyone else, with handshaking or hugging, as appropriate, always with loving smiles. Those who know the song sing along.
Use discipline through skillful chairing Allow all the friends to speak, but only one at a time Avoid fruitless digression Keep the friends focused on the aims of the community as pioneers of a new religion and a new order Remember the equal importance of all aspects of Feast; if the community is forced to skimp on the consultative portion, you've only had 2/3 of a Feast Establish a time limit on the Feast to encourage efficiency, but be careful; this could backfire Eloquent talks - on the poetry of Tahirih or Baha'u'llah, on the Arc, on the Fund, on teaching, on sacrifice, on the nature of love, on the nature of God, on the Golden Age, on the advancement of women, on the role of men. Get the believers of ethnic (eg, non-majority) backgrounds to recite poetry and explain its beauty and meaning in their language and culture. Visual aids - for the Fund, for teaching projects, for upcoming events. "... meanwhile...while all this is going on...the homemade bread in the oven should begin to become fragrant...wafting its warm scent throughout the house... so that during the social portion everyone can partake of warm homemade bread with honey/butter..."
Seat the friends around a table with planned seating arrangements that encourage Bahá'í teachings of unity in diversity Vary the food - potluck suppers, fruit plates, children serving (or making), outdoor social portions (weather/climate permitting), in the park, as the opening to a mid-day Feast. Play games - "Spiritual Pursuit" highly recommended, Scrabble, checkers; and the ever-popular (among the youth, anyway) "hook" - the classic Persian card game.
Your ideas are welcome and encouraged.
Please email me from this link. Be sure to say that you visited this page and you're responding to my invitation.
Feel free to check these ideas with
the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh,
the exhortations of 'Abdu'l-Bahá,
the advice of Shoghi Effendi, and
the advice of the Universal House of Justice.
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