Odds are you’ve got a Christmas list going by now — gift ideas for everyone from your nephew to your goddaughter to your mailman. But what about the birthday boy? What’s the gift Jesus gets from you this Christmas?
If you’ve ever read the Book of Leviticus, you know all about the sacrifices God asks of the Israelites, referred to in the reading from Hebrews today. Leviticus can be a chore to read — a little repetitive, a little intimidating. There’s a lot of very specific actions that God asks His Chosen People to complete to make up for whatever they have done wrong. In essence, it’s a bit of a wish list for gifts.
But it’s a wish list that can really confuse you. What’s God going to do with a cereal offering? The kidneys of an animal? If you look closely, what God is doing here is beautiful. He’s customized his wish list to only those things He knows the Israelites can give. It’s God saying, in what amounts to theological baby-talk for folks who barely know of Him and His ways, exactly how they could be stewards. “Do this, but don’t do that. If you do that, do this and you will find My mercy.”
Our guide to stewardship — the Gospels of Christ — is less precise because by the time of Christ, God’s people have grown in understanding of love and mercy and relationship with the divine. Through Christ, we find out that God’s real wish list didn’t really consist of cereal offerings and the kidneys of various animals. It’s far simpler, but luckily, it’s something we still have on-hand. All He wants is our whole heart.
— Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS