Thursday, March 30, 2017

Day 58: Food as Holy Offering and Receiving Holy Food

Leviticus 8, 9, 10 and Mark 6:30-56

Leviticus today talks about the ordination of Aaron and his sons while relying heavily on the topic of food. Where and when to eat holy offerings specifically. Mark talks to us about holy food in a completely different manner.

Leviticus 8

This section begins the actual carrying out of the statements God has made to Moses concerning the ordination of Aaron’s sons. I find it particularly interesting that the prophet, Moses, is so obviously held in higher authority than even the head priest, Aaron. The fact that this is noted in a priestly document is surprising food for thought. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that the leadership/priests of Jesus’ day were not so keen on him. They did not want to be under a prophet’s authority.
Of note in the account of offerings is that the most holy offerings, such as ordination, could only be eaten by a priest within the sacred sanctuary court. The priestly portions however of other sacrifices could be taken home and eaten by the family in any clean place.
By the way, did you catch our favorite number 7 once more? Seven days for ordination rites to be complete.

Leviticus 9

Now that Aaron is ordained he steps up and begins actually leading the sacrifices that Moses has done previously. The fire from the Lord that burns the offering is a sign that the Lord will be with the people in a very visible way, through fire and cloud.

Leviticus 10

Aaron’s sons offered unholy fire before the altar of the Lord. This caused the Lord to send out fire to kill them in front of the altar. I cannot begin to imagine this. And we talk about worship wars now.
Aaron is silent, he does not complain after two of his sons are killed. Unlike the people of Israel on the whole, Aaron is willing to accept good and judgement at the hands of God, apparently. Or he was afraid that the fire would consume him as well.
God speaks to Aaron directly here and talks with him about the importance of being sober when in the presence of the Lord and the tabernacle. This is still genuinely good advice for anyone leading a worship service.

Mark 6:30-56

Jesus is with his disciples and acknowledges that they need some time away after their going out into the world to perform healings and other signs and wonders. I can identify with the need for rest, for a break, for time in an isolated place.
The crowds however, find them, as they usually do. Jesus has compassion on them and teaches for a long time. It is getting to be dinner time and the disciples tell Jesus to send the people away to get food. Jesus says “You give them food.”
Initially this is a shocking statement to me. How does Jesus expect them to feed a crowd that large without a caterer or at the very least food trucks? But then I remember that these men had been out in the world performing miracles already. If you could heal leprosy, why would you not be able to figure out bread?
Jesus is exasperated by their lack of faith, and asks them to count the food present. Five Loaves and 2 Fish are brought forward. Jesus has them sit down in groups of 50 and 100, then he blesses the food and has the disciples begin handing it out.
I’ve often called this the first potluck meal. I do not for a second believe that no one in that crowd had any supplies or food stuffs. I think that in a society of scarcity there would have been very few who were willing to offer up those resources. But when they are set down in smaller groups, groups where you are faced with the reality of the hungry faces of your neighbor, I believe you are more likely to share even what little you have.
I do not believe that how the miracle occurred, because getting food insecure individuals to share is miraculous, in anyway diminishes the miracle or Jesus’ capability to perform such signs and wonders. He could have turned the dirt in front of them to an all you can eat fish and bread buffet. The point to me is that even a small amount of faith goes a very long way.

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