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Leviticus Made Easy

posted Nov 20, 2013, 8:24 AM by Amelia Fannin   [ updated Nov 20, 2013, 8:24 AM by in apropos ]
Christians have an awkward relationship with the Bible's first five books.  Much of St. Paul drives home the point that we aren't so righteous and we stand in the need of grace and mercy.  To make his point, Paul is often pretty down on the Law.
Christians also hold that God had something to do with the writing of the books of the Old Testament.  Jesus quoted those scriptures a lot. Episcopalians aren't fundamentalists, but we look for truth in all sixty six books.  Hmmm... awkward.
What with St. Paul staring down from that stained glass, how should we read books like Leviticus or Numbers?
I'm glad you asked!
Those books are about the sanctification of everyday life.  What we do for a living, what we choose to wear, when we work and when we rest, how we treat family and strangers and even animals - these are all sacred acts.  Take the famous dietary laws.  No, we don't read them like lawyers. But it's good to bring God into our thoughts while we shop.  Where did that food come from?  Who else needs it more than we do?  Where did Christians get the freedom to eat anything we want at any time?  What do we do with that freedom?
Maybe this approach doesn't actually make Leviticus easy reading.  But the Jesuits put it nicely - "finding God in all things".
Leviticus - practically nobody's favorite book - opens with several chapters on sacrifices.  Trivial?   Let's see...  The people of God are to bring sacrifices for thanks and for peace as well as for atonement.  We are to bring sacrifices all the time.  We make big offerings if we're well off and small offerings if we are not.  They provide food for those who minister to us.  Any lessons here for us?
Is this suddenly some kind of stewardship column?   Not exactly.  But stewardship season gives us time to practice the sanctification of everyday life.  And that's not awkward at all.   In fact, it sounds pretty good.
David Barbrow
Senior Warden