First Fruits

I’ve pondered some of the significance of first fruits elsewhere in this blog… Jesus was God’s first fruit, the first offspring of each Egyptian family and animal was taken up in the passover, and (most importantly for the things I’m contemplating today) we’re supposed to give up our own first fruits.

I don’t think it’s wrong to interpet this as saying that we ought to make our offerings to God first.  I don’t think it’s wrong to think that our offerings out to take the form of our time, talent, and treasure.

(I’m not, just for the record, claiming I’m any good at this.  But I think it’s what we’re supposed to do.)

But if we just think of it in terms of putting God on the top of our list of priorities, I think we lose something.

As I was reading scripture today, when I got to the part about first fruits, I got to reflecting a bit about the nature of ancient societies.

In life B.G.C. (Before Grocery Stores) they didn’t have unfettered access to all the different kinds of food they wanted.  They didn’t even have unfettered access to the amount of food that they’d want.

Right after the harvest, of course, everything was ducky.  But right before the next harvest, things got pretty lean.  Malcolm Gladwell’s latest books describes how  midevil peasants went into a sort-of hybernation from lack of food.   Of course, things would vary considerably at different times and places.

But there’s no ancient society that it’s fun to be at right before the harvest.

I don’t know that the first fruits of any harvest are necessarily objectively better than what comes later.  But subjectively?

It’s like comparing the first watermelon of the summer with the one you have at the end of summer.  Except that you’re starving before you eat the first one.

It’s like fasting for God, and then, in the very last hour of the fast, stopping by a gourmet buffet and looking at all the food but restraining from touching them.  The first fruits, that which we offer to God, it’s not only supposed to be at the top of the list: it’s also supposed to be the very most precious that we’ve got.

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jeffsdeepthoughts

The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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