Rise and fall or is it fall and rise, the one that ends on a happier note with hope! Today’s reading covers the gamut in terms of what’s happening to the people of Israel. As I’m writing this, it’s Thanksgiving in the United States once again. I could have spent time reflecting only on the prediction of the fall, but on a day of giving thanks, it seemed appropriate to focus on both. Thankfully the Spirit prompted me accordingly!
How unbelievable and frightening it must have seemed to the people to hear Jeremiah’s words. That is assuming they were actually listening to the words of the LORD being spoken by Jeremiah. Their beloved Jerusalem was going to fall.
Did you know that someone is praying for you simply by thanking God for you? We may never know who those people are. And that’s okay! Paul wanted his readers to know that they were appreciated. There is no greater honor than for someone to tell you, “Hey, I thank God for you!”
In turn, we are probably thanking God for those people in our lives who have made a difference in some way. Maybe it’s the Sunday school teacher you had as a kid, or the neighbor down the street who brought your lost dog back to you, or your very own children who bring you joy every day. The list is endless when you get started. How often do we actually take time to thank God for these people and say a prayer of protection for them?
In our last reading, we spoke of the Passover, also known as the Festival of Unleavened Bread. The two festivals in today’s reading are also still celebrated today, although there are different names associated with them, too. I’m impressed that these traditions have stood the test of time and people are still serious about honoring God during the festival times. Jewish people take their religion very seriously and are careful to keep the ancient traditions alive.
As Christians, we will soon be celebrating the season of Pentecost in our churches. While this is another name for the Festival of Weeks, in Jewish circles it is now called Shauvot. You may recall, for us, this is when the Holy Spirit filled the disciples after Jesus had ascended. There were a lot of people filling the town of Jerusalem. They were all gathering and bringing their offerings, their “first fruits,” to God for the Festival of Weeks. Fun fact, of the thousands of people who came to the Lord that day were also the “first fruits” of the believers yet to come.
This was an interesting passage for me. I am aware of how we tithe today. That is, setting aside 10% of our income to give it to the Lord. Since we don’t have grain or herds or such, that is how we show our faithfulness. Giving back to God a portion of what is already his is how I understand tithing works.
Why do we tithe? Moses would say, “doing this will teach you always to fear the Lord your God.” For me, it’s also a way of honoring God and giving thanks for his provision. Having a mindset of gratefulness and showing that by giving back is such a joyful practice. Even when I have had little to give, there was a joy or peace in sharing.
Have you ever wondered what would have happened if Jesus’ ministry had continued, and he had not been crucified? That could never have happened because Jesus was destined for the moment of his death and resurrection. But at this high point in his ministry, people were really getting into it and seeing him for who he was.
Word had spread about what Jesus was doing, how he was teaching, healing performing miracles, and not cowering to the religious leaders. The people were so hungry for this kind of leadership. Yet, they were also dreaming of a mighty king who would rescue them from their oppression. Jesus would rescue them but in a way they weren’t expecting. Continue reading “Luke 19:28-40 – Triumphant Entry”