Saturday, November 26, 2011

Making an Offering Unto the Lord

Since this is Thanksgiving weekend I thought I would say a few words about offerings from the perspective of the Old Testament as found in Leviticus. You might wonder, “Why is a Christian priest referencing Leviticus?” I believe that we receive great insight into the way in which we offer our gifts to God by studying His required offerings.
First we have to rethink the use of the word sacrifice because for most of us it conjures up images of volcanoes and virgins and angry Gods. But a cursory look in Leviticus and we see the word sacrifice used in association with things such as bread and oil. “If he should offer it for a thanksgiving, he shall offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving loaves of fine flour mixed with oil, and unleavened cakes smeared with oil, and fine flour kneaded with oil.” (Leviticus 7.12) Clearly the word sacrifice is used in terms of offerings to God.

And being an offering to God these sacrifices come with strict instructions not because God demands intricate functions but so that we humans can learn to honor something above ourselves. If we consider the sacrificial system of the Old Testament in this way we better understand why they were commanded by God.

Our offerings are for OUR benefit rather than for the benefit of God. When we submit ourselves to the commands of God, especially from within the system of making offerings, we acknowledge that there is something beyond us that requires our attention and devotion. This system of sacrifices was supposed to lead Israel to live Godly lives. Instead the system devolved into a list of rules and regulations that, by following the rules without hesitation and without error had become in itself salvation.

This old idea, retrained by our Lord at his coming, is something to be thankful for this weekend. As humans we take special care in the customary giving of gifts for Christmas and birthday etc. so why wouldn’t we expect a similar procedure when we give our gifts to the Lord? Think of the Eucharist as insight. We use gold and silver cups instead of cheap ceramic cups to hold the precious Body and Blood of Christ.

Just some words to think about when we offer our thanks to God this weekend. It’s not about fulfilling some legal obligation or rule, but about honoring and thanking God with gifts and devotion for the many blessings He has given us.

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