First Fruits

Today, I harvested my first mint crop. I’ve never had great success with herbs, and my current garden is my first vegetable garden. And, well, I’ve never had much of a green thumb.WP_20160511_18_23_28_Moment

But today, today I got my first mint for the perfect first iced tea of the season. It is my first fruit.

The Bible talks a lot about our first fruits, primarily in commands to return these to God through sacrifices (eg Exodus 23:19). He has always demanded our best (Cain brought a sacrifice, but Abel brought the best portions of his flock’s firstborn in Genesis 4), blessing those who follow his commands.

So, why is it that we are to give our first fruits (or really, any fruits) in sacrifice? Why does God want that from us, especially as he doesn’t need it?

There are many reasons, reasons I’m sure you’ve heard plenty of times in the obligatory stewardship sermons that every pastor has to give from time to time. A few of those reasons are:

  • we are commanded to
  • it provides for others, both in the church and outside the church
  • it teaches us responsibility and stewardship
  • it puts our priorities in order
  • it turns our attention to Christ

So what is the significance of my mint tea today? This was my first harvest, so it belongs to Christ. This drink is an offering to the one that grew the mint. I don’t believe that all offerings must be something that you give away, like a tithe, but instead that some offerings are something you still might consume yourself (most sacrifices in Scripture were consumed by the priests, at least). This is an offering of my thoughts. With this first harvest, I sit reminded of the goodness of our creator, without whom nothing would grow for me to harvest.

I sit with my mint iced tea rearranging my priorities, using this an opportunity to contemplate the humbleness of my heart and to bring myself more closely in line with God’s desires for my time, my life and my path as I walk with him.

How will God use your first fruits?

 

 

Apron Theology

129If you have any expectation of staying clean while cooking (particularly baking, I’ve found), you’re wearing an apron. I personally have a terrible habit of remembering halfway through the recipe that I should probably put mine on. Cooking without something to protect your clothes gets messy– sometimes irreversibly so. I nearly lost one of my favorite cardigans (that I wear very frequently) to pulled pork juices in the crockpot last weekend.

We are trained from a young age to protect ourselves from things that might make us dirty. We put on aprons when cooking, gloves when cleaning the toilet, smocks when painting, old shoes when mowing the lawn. Particularly when something is a chore, we find ways to protect ourselves from being made messy. We don’t want to be unclean.

The Jews of Jesus’ time were much the same way. We need only glance through the books of Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy to get a feel for how easily one would be made unclean and the consequences of such a state. It’s hard for me to imagine not being permitted to attend worship once a month because of my monthly cycle (Leviticus 15:19-24). But yet, as Holy Week arrives, I am struck by the extreme gift that Joseph of Arimathea gave by making himself unclean in order to lay Christ’s body to rest, knowing that simply by touching the body of his dead savior, he would be unclean on the Sabbath day.

Joseph’s act is reminiscent of Jesus’ behavior while he was still in active ministry. A woman, bleeding for twelve years (!), is absolutely desperate for healing, so she risks all she has to risk. She reaches out to touch the edge of Jesus’ robe. (Mark 5:25-24) Because she has been bleeding, she has been unclean for just as long. For twelve years, she has not been touched by another person. Just imagine how isolating this would be, to be set apart from everyone for twelve years because you are sick, to know that anyone to touch you would be ceremonially unclean, separated from God and the Temple. You would be isolated from everything and everyone, including God.

So she risks it. She risks reaching out to touch the edge of the robe of the man she believes is her last hope. She risks making him unclean in hopes that maybe she could be made clean. She risks dirtying the most pure, holy, undefiled person to have ever walked on this earth.

And he blesses her for it. Continue reading

Rejoice, A New Creation!

This week was a very blessed week for my family as my husband and I became members of the church we have been attending since this summer, which has welcomed us with open arms. But even more important than that, my husband made his faith formal and public by taking the sacrament of baptism! For some, the significance of that moment may be less obvious than to others, but it is terribly significant to Christ. It is an act of acceptance and obedience to Christ’s calling and an act of submission to His plan for your life, “an outward sign of inward grace,” symbolic of the washing away of sins and the death of the old man and birth of the new man (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Lobster BisqueBecause of the significance of the occasion, I treated him to one of his favorite meals (and, coincidentally, the most expensive meal I’ve ever made): Lobster Bisque. He’s lucky I love him 😛

A special meal is one of those ways that I like to celebrate significant moments in life because, particularly when you make it yourself, it actively responds to the importance of the occasion. So, here are the reasons I chose to cook him this meal and why to cook something special at all.

  1. It’s his favorite. It’s not my favorite (although it certainly is delicious), but his favorite, and something he doesn’t ever get at home.
  2. It’s expensive. If not today, on what is one of the most important days of his life, then when? He certainly isn’t going to get it ‘just because’ on a Wednesday night! But more significantly, this event deserves an expensive meal. It is a sacrifice to serve such a luxurious meal and, in the same way as the Israelites of the Old Testament would offer burnt sacrifices for spiritual commitment and renewal, I can give this meal to God as much as to my husband, as a thanks offering to His faithfulness and goodness.
  3. It’s not the easiest. I can acknowledge and celebrate the significance of the occasion by putting in a little more effort than I typically would when putting together dinner.

Continue reading