Leviticus 5-7; Psalm 31
People were asked to sacrifice from what they had. The rich gave a lamb. The poor could give turtles. These are rituals that demonstrate a deeper meaning. The size of the sacrifice matters less than the willingness to give something of value away to atone. Atonement can be hard to grasp because it assumes we are sinners and we need to be forgiven. What is sin? A propensity to choose ourselves and intentionally/unintentionally wreak havoc in our environment. It doesn’t have to be blatant overt evil. It could be turning a blind eye to those in need. It could be silence in the face of oppression. Sin is the way we break trust with God, each other and even in ourselves. We all do it. What’s the big deal, though? What’s the big deal with a breach of trust here and there? It makes life more veiled and less vulnerable. We work harder to prove our worth. We do things to our benefit and maybe neglect others. Why care about others? We’re interdependent. We are all created in the image of God. We’ve lost that connection to each other, to the earth, to God.
Atonement is to heal this lost and to bring us all back as one. Jesus does that. The Holy Spirit does that. Maybe other things like yoga practices that tell us we are one also do that. But can we simply say we are one without acknowledging the ways we’ve fractured that oneness and answer for it? I acknowledge all the ways I choose myself and selfishly/cowardly not love others fully. How do I shift away from this propensity? How do I choose others and me in all situations? How do I walk with compassion and forgiveness and generosity, without it feeling like an obligation? God help.
Leviticus 1-4; Psalm 30
Burnt. Grain. Peace. Sin. That’s the order of offerings given to God to approach him. It starts with hospitality and thanksgiving. It starts with gratitude and welcome. It starts with laying our defenses down. Then it gets into the nitty gritty of offenses and wrongdoing. The ways of this book may seem laborious and over technical, but it’s also a way of repetition that can make this mindset of gratitude and humility second-nature. In these offerings, God isn’t demanding sacrifices because he thinks he’s so damn good and humans are so damn lucky to even gain access. What if God is showing us, his character requires a mirroring in us of gratitude and humility? He only wants to be on the same playing field as us. No defenses. No pretenses. Meeting at the food table. And then, let’s get into it.
Can we take this same approach to our relationships? How can we begin with gratitude and peace? A second to explain peace: This is not a ways of ignoring offenses and acting Kumbaya as if all things are good. No. It’s a dropping of defenses to actually hear each other! Back to peace. Can we welcome everyone into our time and space with vulnerable and open hospitality before we get into the nitty gritty messy? Wouldn’t the messy and ugly feel more rooted if we know off the bat, we are here for the good of each other, of the other? Couldn’t this actually bring about better conflict resolution?
Acknowledge with gratitude. Drop our defenses. And let’s get into it.
Exodus 35-40; Psalm 29
The people are to give according to how their heart is stirred. How do we measure that stirring? How do we straddle sacrifice and generosity? How much do we give to exhibit our commitment?
God’s laws set us apart. We are to be known by God’s law. God’s law should make us attractive in order to fulfill the covenant of multiplying our numbers. God’s law isn’t only to shape us in the present, but to remind us of what’s to come. I like this concept of his law. It’s the training, the discipline, the way to move that transform us. When you follow something long enough, it becomes second nature. I don’t have to walk around a store and constantly remind myself not to steal. If you are living and breathing love and compassion, you shouldn’t need to pray about giving our compassion and love. It should be second-nature. Your heart should naturally stir for you to give.
Goodbye Exodus. It’s been real and bits boring. It’s been upsetting and scary watching God be that angry and sad. It’s been patient to journey with the Israelites in the wilderness. Exodus,you are tiredsome and specific, but it all points to a long suffering grace that is God.
Exodus 32-34; Psalm 28
I just listened to an interview between a NY times reporter and an Arizona sheriff who works in a border town. The sheriff is a nice, informed, Christian man who sees dead people in the woods, families trying to seek asylum and more daily. He is in support of Trump. He was dissenting how he heard Trump’s address, and he zoned in on what he thought mattered and everything else, while not 135% aligned, supported his argument. He didn’t seem bigoted. He really cared and he painted the immigration policies in our country with greater clarity and in need of reform. But we listened to the same address, and my ears are colored, as much as I want to think I’m not prejudiced and educated, and the moment I hear that prez’ voice my body cringes.
How colored are we when we read the Bible? Have we been desensitized to not see the ick of God and people in the OT? Do the killings not alarm us anymore? Or are they just stories we can skim, but then for other parts, we hold really tightly?
When we talk about this passage in Exodus (golden calf passages), do we forget that God wanted to kill all these people who created a calf? Did we forget that he did send the Levi’s into town to kill over 3000 men? Oh, but then we focus on God saying he’s a slow to anger and compassionate God. What the hell is going on here? Is this the God I worship? This God who loses it when he loses control over his people and needed Moses to calm him down. Is this the God that allowed Moses to kill the men? Goddamnit. Reading the Bible makes me question my faith more and more; if that doesn’t happen to you, you’re not reading carefully.
Lord help me not lose sight of who you are.
Exodus 30-31; Psalm 27
This morning I woke up to the smell of bacon. It was heaven. It was as if I was both getting hungry and getting full at the same time. I’m still thinking about the bacon even though it is now long been eaten.
I love the imagery and sensation of aroma of the sacrifice. An aroma spreads. It draws in. It hooks people. Most of the goodness of food is in the smell. If you couldn’t smell, the flavor dissipates. Is that what we do with our works and sacrifices? Does it attract? Does it repel? In Romans it says we are to be living sacrifices. Are our lives making people interested in what we honor or do our lives make people hate who we uphold? Do our lives make others curious? Are you bringing people near just by being? Aromas don’t make themselves fill the air and give off scents. They just are by the burning. We make ourselves attractive by the thing we focus on to honor what and who we love the most.
To whom do you dedicate the most time to? To what do you focus on most? What is the response of those who are in your space? Smell good friends. Smell good and make people interested in what you’re consuming.
Exodus 28-29; Psalm 26
From clothes to how to use every part of the animal sacrifice, God knows. It’s as if God is trying to put language to the complexity of his holiness. This is what it took to be in the presence of pure goodness. This is what it required. But God trusts that we could follow these steps and wants us near. Doing all this is a daily reminder for Aaron and the priests that there is a distance between humans and God. Our relationship has been severed and it can feel like work to get near to God again. Imagine from the kindest most loving parent, I want you near, but do remember how much you’ve hurt me, for your sake so you remember the depths I went, but I want you. But without that parental guilt. You know what I’m talking about.
In comes Jesus who bridges this, who reminds us daily, minute to minute, that God has gone to the depths for us and when we remember that we are one with God again. When we trust that God wants our good, has our good, has proven he wants that, we are aligned with God. We trust his kingdom. We trust his commandments, because they don’t tell us what to do, but more illuminate what we know is good. God’s heart of good is our heart. If we can trust that God is for us, we can give it all up.
I’m not into selfish rich privileged Christians toting the prosperity gospel exclaiming God is for us! God is for us means you are willing to sacrifice everything material, emotional, mental, spiritual, relational that has filled the places of I’m good enough. I’m enough. God is for us means we are already fully loved.
Exodus 25-27; Psalm 25
The tabernacle is REAL specific. Parts have to be an exact length. Materials need to be of a certain kind. It’s like building the Star Wars or Harry Potter sea of LEGO’s. The place where God dwells isn’t a haphazard place. It’s a unique, specific, sacred space that requires awareness, care and a vision of what’s to come. Thank Jesus we don’t have to make tabernacles to have the presence of God among us. Because of Jesus and his love, we get to have the Holy Spirit that can dwell in us because we are the temple.
Do we treat our temple with as much care, awareness and vision of what’s to come? Is our temple in constant process? Is it already perfect for God to dwell? It’s both. We are already holy to host God in us, yet have room to keep becoming the holy place where God dwells. How can we treat our bodies, our minds, our souls with a celebration of what is present and a desire for growth to what will come? May we know our bodies, all its specifics and sacredness. May we honor our bodies and see its power and beauty. May we bring our temple to places to make them radiant and not make the place worst. We don’t do that by doing, but by being whole and loved without pushing the place where we’re at to love us. If we can act and live as if we are already enough and holy and loved, how much less will we take and demand of everyone and everything and how much more will we simply want to give of ourselves?
Treat your body like a temple. Nothing that comes in it will defile it. But don’t be taking that for granted. Don’t devalue it by disrespecting it. You know that ick feel when you do that. Or when others so unjustly do that to you. But what can your body do for others?