Some of my favorite childhood memories have a common setting:
A sticky tabletop with mismatched, well worn chairs that scraped against the blue-and-tan flowered linoleum floor.
It was a good thing we are all so short of stature, because we wouldn't have been able to fold long legs under that table. It was tight.
I remember my sister falling asleep at the table nearly every night, occasionally falling face-first into her spaghetti, but more often, she would fall off the chair and whap her little chin on the edge of the table.
I remember asking my dad about what baptism means, anyway. I remember beef stroganoff (or, as we called it, "gray stuff"), and the no-singing-at-the-table rule, and family devotions, and reciting lines from movies- laughing hysterically until milk came out of noses, and bumping the table to make the wax drip down the Advent candles.
There must have been fights. Conflict. Tension. I just don't remember any of that.
Somehow, in my memories, the kitchen table is always the center of everything being right in the world. The relationships were never strained. The laughter flowed, and I felt right where I belonged.
Food, shared together, smooths over all those hurts and the non-sharing sister and the parents who are overworked and overtired.
Meals have a way of doing that, don't they? Of bringing people together and making things right.
There's a reason people go to dinner together when they're dating. There's a reason that friendships flourish around pizza parlors and coffee shops.
Food builds relationships.
Head on over to Leviticus 3 today- we'll be reading about the next offering- the Fellowship Offering.
If you want to read it online, here ya go.
The Fellowship Offering (sometimes called the Peace Offering) differs from the first two offerings that we've looked already.
First, this is an optional offering. The Burnt Offering and the Grain Offering were both required- and as such, had different options depending on your social class, so everyone could afford them. The Fellowship Offering doesn't give any options for people in lower classes.
The animal being offered didn't have to be a male, this time --a signal that this offering doesn't directly represent Christ himself. There was no laying on of hands (this offering is not a substitution).
Secondly, where the Burnt Offering was burned up completely (hence the name), and the Grain Offering was eaten by the priests, in the Fellowship Offering, the meat is returned to the worshiper- it's eaten and shared and enjoyed, while the fat and organs are offered on the altar.
In the most simplest sense, the Fellowship Offering is a party!
Usually, this offering was made to celebrate a specific blessing, an answered prayer, or simply to give thanks for God's goodness. All the meat had to be eaten within a day- which meant that these were big celebrations with lots of guests. Many people were blessed by the celebration of one worshiper.
(This is a really fun offering, actually. Who knew that there were fun sacrifices in Leviticus?)
The Fellowship Offering brings about peace- the Biblical shalom kind of peace.
Wholeness and right relationship between the people was restored over a shared meal- just like at my family dinner table. But even more importantly, a taste wholeness and right relationship was seen between the people and God.
God is symbolically sharing a meal with His people.
The impression of the Lord being right there with them- it lingered among the conversations and the laughter. He enjoys the smiles and fellowship among individuals gathered in His name. The people, sharing a meal together, are symbolize very presence of the Divine.
But it's just a symbol.
After all, even when people are in right relationship with one another, we're still people. Unholy and unrighteous before a holy God. We couldn't be fully with Him, not really.
While the people feasted together, the Lord was behind the veil, in the Holy of Holies, where no one could go.
Sin created a barrier. God, in His Holiness, could not come to the the Israelites. The people could not sit and talk with their Creator.
God Makes a Way to Be with Us
God's plan was better.
While He was with the people symbolically during the Fellowship Offering celebrations, He wanted to truly, fully, deeply be with His people.
And so He came to us, as a human being- a person who would eat some twenty thousand meals with us.
Jesus ate meals as a child, on mountainsides, on lake shores. He ate with us at weddings when the wine ran out, and among crowds with only five loaves and two fishes to go around.
He walked where we walked, he saw places that we can see. He had hands like we have hands, and he got hungry just like we get hungry.
And then he ate with us in the Upper Room- breaking bread and drinking wine.
Even after he bled and died, Christ rose again and ate with the disciples. He walked with them, talked with them, shared life with them.
He was with us.
And now? Through his death and resurrection, he's with us still.
Now he lives in us.
How incredible! To have a God who loves us so much that He desires to be with us- to be closer than a heartbeat. To live in us and transform us and have relationship deeply and fully with us!
We don't have to be separated from Him anymore. He's not just a symbol at a feast among friends. He's right there in the gathering. He's right there at the table.
Jesus gave his life so that we could have a way to be with him always.
Other Posts in this Study:
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