Pot Lucks with a History

Thanksgiving is a very American holiday.  It flows not from the text of the Bible but from the pen of the president.   At our place of fellowship we have a Thanksgiving eve event called “Praise & Pies” at which we do those things in order.  That is sing hymns and then eat pie.

How is that Thanksgiving?

Consider this unlikely text in Leviticus 7:11-15.    
    “And this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings that one may offer to the Lord. [12] If he offers it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the thanksgiving sacrifice unleavened loaves mixed with oil, unleavened wafers smeared with oil, and loaves of fine flour well mixed with oil. [13] With the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving he shall bring his offering with loaves of leavened bread. [14] And from it he shall offer one loaf from each offering, as a gift to the Lord. It shall belong to the priest who throws the blood of the peace offerings. [15] And the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving shall be eaten on the day of his offering. He shall not leave any of it until the morning.”

    It should be remembered that reading Leviticus is like reading an instruction manual.  No one is excited by the manual, nor should they be.  the manual helps you do something else.  Leviticus is an instruction manual for temple worship.  It has a lot of procedural information, but you have to use your imagination to see the real thing.

   The Fellowship or Peace offering could be a totally voluntary gift.  The worshipper presents an animal to be slain.  The fat laden parts are burned on the altar.  Other parts are given to the priests, and the rest is roasted and eaten by the worshipper and, we presume, his family and friends.  Solomon and Hezekiah offered thousands of these sacrifices, which sound terribly wasteful until one realizes that these were offered and eaten by the nation assembled at the Temple.  (I Kings 8:62-66; 2 Chronicles 30:24-27)

   We are talking about something like a bar-b-que or a pot luck.  There, after the offering for sin has been made, was an additional free will offering of gratitude.  The idea was to celebrate.   It was a feast, in the presence of God, with friends.

   So we see life with God goes along with a celebration in community.  all of which was done with food.

   So our church suppers, pot lucks and so forth have this back drop. 

   This Thanksgiving, give thanks, be with friends, dig in.

About the pace of the postings….

We have been engaged in the ups and downs of pastoral ministry – which is like the Dow Jones average, with it’s combination of expected and mysterious variations.  Lets just say that the Dow Activity Average has been high for the past month or two, and will continue through December.  We will post as we are able.

By the way, we advocate simplicity in holiday observations.  Somehow that 56 facet diamond, the Wii wand, and the Santa Christmas Cards don’t quite add to our spirits what we hope. 

“O come thout, Day spring, come and cheer, our spirits by thine advent here.”

“reclaiming the bible for the church”

This is the title we discovered in the library (U Wisconsin) while looking for something else.  That, by the way has been fruitful in the past.  the title raises a good question.  We see a difference between how academia studies the Bible and how “the church”, meaning the faith community, reads it.  There are tremendous resources available from academia – particularly historical and literary insights to the text.  However, one is often left with a disassembled puzzle.  Without faith, it seems impossible to read the texts in a way that has the parts fitting together.  The church has always said in some fashion that God is speaking through the books, so that they must be saying something unified and clear.  We will post more after reading.  Hopefully it is half as good as it’s title.

Faith – Hebrews 11

This is a very fruitful chapter on the nature of Faith.  V. 1 offers a kind of definition

Hebrews 11:1
    Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Verse 3 speaks to the question of whether material science could discover the faith perspective on existance. 

Hebrews 11:3
    By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

So then how would faith and science have a conversation?

V. 4 to the end offer a list of examples from the Old Testament and up to the un-named Christians who were rejected or persecuted in the early decades of the church (Well that is what we think about v. 32ff).

There are a few intersting summary statements, among them v. 13-16, which identify people of faith as aliens who look to another land.  as the old song goes, “This world is not my home, I am just passin’ through”. 

Hebrews 11:13-16
    These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. [14] For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. [15] If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. [16] But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

Reading the chapter against the backdrop of OT history, it is clear that this other worldliness was not exactly detachment – these were farmers, national leaders, judges and others who lived very much in this world.  Yet they had a larger vision.

Is it why Martin Luther King Jr. could say “I have a dream” and that had a powerful effect on this culture?  As compared to George H. W. Bush who once said, “I don’t believe much in that vision thing.”  We are not equating those men with the Kingdom of God, but suggesting the power that faith in another world can have on this world.