As we have done throughout previous Lenten and Advent seasons, we are again blogging through the Lectionary readings in this Lenten season. This year, however, due to our travels in Central Asia, we have asked a number of guests to blog for us. These guests are individuals who are influential in our lives and work. We're honored to share this space with them-and with you–in this season of reflection.
A reading from the book of Deuteronomy
You will enter the land the Lord your God is giving you as your own. You will take it over. You will settle down in it. When you do, get some of the first share of everything your soil produces. Put it in a basket. It's from the land the Lord your God is giving you. Take your gifts and go to the special place he will choose. He will put his Name there.
Speak to the priest who is in office at that time. Tell him, “I announce today to the Lord your God that I have come to this land. It's the land he promised with an oath to our fathers to give us.” The priest will take the basket from you. He'll set it down in front of the altar of the Lord your God.
Then you will speak while the Lord is listening. You will say, “My father Jacob was a wanderer from the land of Aram. He went down into Egypt with a few people. He lived there and became the father of a great nation. It had huge numbers of people.
“But the people of Egypt treated us badly. They made us suffer. They made us work very hard. Then we cried out to the Lord. He is the God of our people who lived long ago. He heard our voice. He saw how much we were suffering. The Egyptians were crushing us. They were making us work very hard.
“So the Lord reached out his mighty hand and powerful arm and brought us out of Egypt. He did great and wonderful things. He did miraculous signs and wonders. He brought us to this place. He gave us this land. It's a land that has plenty of milk and honey.
“Now, Lord, I'm bringing you the first share of crops from the soil. After all, you have given them to me.” Place the basket in front of the Lord your God. Bow down to him.
You and the Levites and the outsiders among you will be full of joy. You will enjoy all of the good things the Lord your God has given to you and your family.
–Deuteronomy 26:1-11 (NIRV)
Moses is nearing the end of his life. He has lead a group of people for many years. They have journeyed many miles. Now, they stand in Moab, ready to enter the land, and listen as Moses gives them their final instructions.
Take the land, and give it to the Lord.
Moses reminds the people–and commands them to remember–from whence they came. They were slaves in Egypt.
They needed rescue. God developed a rescue plan.
They needed a redeemer. God found one who could lead them to a place of redemption.
They needed a land. God provided.
Out of this place of redemption and reconciliation, Moses commands them to remember. He commands them to give out of the gifts they have been given. He commands them to remember they are blessed. He commands them to be a blessing.
Blessed to be a blessing.
And here at the beginning of our Lenten journey, we look to the end of the Israelites journey. For us, the wilderness is beginning. For them, it is ending.
And here, in this place, we look back to the manager and ahead to the cross. We stand between the glory of Emmanuel and the tragedy of crucifixion. We stand between rescue from Egypt and the crossing of the Jordan. And, we listen as Moses commands us in our glorious entry into the land to not forget our fundamental need for rescue.
In this place, we give the glory to He who has rescued us from slavery. And, we give the first fruits of the land that we will possess.
As we begin our Lenten journey, let us not forget to give of that which has been given to us. Let us not forget that the plot of this epic story we are in is that we are blessed to be a blessing.