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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Here we go!

Like thinking of a snappy, perfect retort two days after someone insults you, it is forever my bane to see much more clearly what i should have told the Redwoods Sunday school class in the week following my getting to teach them.  We were looking at the Jewish Calendar as God and Moses laid it down in Leviticus 23 and 25.  And i saw as through a glass darkly part of what i see now so they got a tidbit of this, but not the whole enchilada i see now, with mole sauce, salsa and sour cream.

The Jewish year began in the Spring.  In the time of sowing seed.  In the time of new birth.  A new growing season, new life all around, wildflowers and trees blooming and sprouting, the weather warming, the snows retreating, lambs and kids frolicking and even baby goats!  In this time God calls his people out of slavery, out of death, he calls his firstborn, his chosen son and says, 'You are my beloved, in whom I AM well pleased.'  He buys his firstborn out of death and slavery with the blood of his own firstborn.  The Lamb of God is sacrificed and feeds his people for the start of their journey.  His blood covers them, the angel of death passes over them and spares them for the sake of the Lamb of God.  The bread they eat has no yeast, no sin, because the work done is all Jesus'.  All righteous, not mixed or mitigated by selfish motives.

Then comes the blessed day when they are finally able to gather the first fruits of the harvest, early results, the first ripenings of this year whenever they came.  Decided completely by God!  No date could be given for this.  The first fruit of life!  The first gift!  Waved in the air by the priest before God.  A lamb again sacrificed.  No bread, no roasted grain, no meal.  This offering is totally consumed by fire, devoted to destruction before God as a pleasing aroma.  Christ, raised up in the air by the priests, cut off, no descendants, buried in a tomb.  A pleasing sacrifice to God, a promise of things yet to come.

Then seven sevens counted off, a number of perfection, completion.  The feast of weeks!  Pentecost!  The first harvest!  The lamb is sacrificed with bulls and rams and goats and fellowship offerings and sin offerings and now the work is taken up.  The church, messy and chaotic and mixed with sin, bread with yeast, our work is beginning!  The Spirit gives us fruit!  Eat, feast, the journey is too great for you!

Then, at the end of the season, a ram's horn is blown.  A shofar.  The feast of trumpets.  On the first day of the seventh month, at the time of completion, an announcement, a call to arms, a call to assembly and remembrance.  A herald of God the King coming!  Thus begins the time of testing to see what is in the hearts of men.  Ten days, ten commandments, ten plagues, the number of testing, leads us to...

The Day of Atonement.  The day of judgment.  The terrible day of the Lord!  The Harvest is brought in.  The reaping is done.  When the books of Life and Death are opened and all deeds are made known.  When the sheep are separated from the goats.  The temple is entered by our great high priest and we are atoned for by his blood.

But that is not the end!  Oh no!  Not by a long shot!  For just five short days later, the Sabbath begins the Feast of Tabernacles!  The Feast of Booths!  The seven days of celebration of the time when we lived in skin tents, wandering the wilderness, led by God, led by faith, before we entered this beautiful land where we inherited fields and vineyards we did not have to plant!  Before we lived in the Kingdom!  A week of festival and joy and celebration and craziness living in the streets where everyone shares and dances and feasts and remembers and tells the story of what God has done!

God has been telling the same story all along.  He weaves it into everything he does, everything He's created.  Are we seeing it?  Are we remembering it?  Are we telling it to our children and our children's children?  Are we celebrating?

Today is Fat Tuesday.  A feast designed as the antithesis of what God does.  God's gonna make us fast for forty days of Lent, let's party while we still can.  i don't much care for that story.  It's man's story.  It's short sighted.  It sees neither what God has done nor what He is going to do.  And that's not the story i want to be a part of.

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