The Rhythm of Celebration
Mighty God, when I think of the splendor of Your kingdom made possible through Jesus Christ, I am lost in wonder and worship.
Read Leviticus 23:1-14
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Rituals are like signposts: They can point us to the rhythms of our faith and walk with God.
When communities celebrate they have a day or so off from work (think July 4), and Israel was no exception. Its calendar was punctuated by regular festival days that marked the rhythm of time and pointed to deeper lessons about their God. Today’s reading introduces the first few festivals, with the rest of the chapter detailing the full round of annual celebrations.
The weekly Sabbath (3) is mentioned first. Tragically, the day designed to liberate people from the tyranny of working seven days a week and enable them to have space to reconnect with God later became an instrument of pious oppression. The Sabbath principle is built into creation (Gen. 2:2,3) and reminded Israel they were no longer in slavery and should never enslave others (Exod. 20:8-11; Deut. 5:12-15). God knows that we need a balanced rhythm of work and rest.
The first annual celebration is the Passover (4,5). Its priority emphasizes its importance as it re-enacted the meal Israel ate before being delivered from Egypt–through God’s powerful intervention and by blood sacrifice. Our equivalent is Easter. What a celebration that should be! Passover merged into the festival of Unleavened Bread (6-8). During this week’s holiday, bracketed by “a sacred assembly,” they lived on flat bread–flat because yeast, symbolizing corruption (1 Cor. 5:8), had been removed from their houses. It reminded them of their diet as they fled Egypt and of God’s provision for them. The earliest agricultural festival occurred when the grain was first harvested (9-14). Israel immediately presented some to God, a liturgy accompanied by burnt and grain offerings, to recognize that God had provided all their food and had the first call on their prosperity. Now Christ has risen for us as the first-fruits of a new creation (1 Cor. 15:20).
How is your work/life/worship balance? By comparison with Israel, are our festivals tame affairs? Is there a way of making them more significant?
Loving Father, make me aware of my blind spots, my lack of balance in my life. Stabilize and strengthen me in my daily walk with You.
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