Old Testament Reading: Deuteronomy 26:1-11
1When you have come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, and you possess it, and settle in it, 2you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his name. 3You shall go to the priest who is in office at that time, and say to him, “Today I declare to the Lord your God that I have come into the land that the Lord swore to our ancestors to give us.” 4When the priest takes the basket from your hand and sets it down before the altar of the Lord your God, 5you shall make this response before the Lord your God: “A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous. 6When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labor on us, 7we cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors; the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. 8The Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders; 9and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. 10So now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground that you, O Lord, have given me.” You shall set it down before the Lord your God and bow down before the Lord your God. 11Then you, together with the Levites and the aliens who reside among you, shall celebrate with all the bounty that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house.
Before the Israelites enter the Promised Land, Moses passes along many teachings. They have been wandering in the wilderness for 40 years! For 40 years God has provided for them with Manna – bread from heaven, quail, and water. A steady diet. Forty years of Manna Stew, Manna Burgers, Manna Surprise and more!
But now they will be farmers. As they enter the land and plant the crops, they will have fruits and vegetables, meats, bread and wine. God will provide in the land flowing with milk and honey.
As the harvest is brought in, Moses instructs them to bring the first fruits of the creation to God. Not crumbs from the table, but the best of the best.
I have shared the story of a woman who called the Butterball Turkey hotline in November before Thanksgiving. Butterball has a hotline number you can call to ask questions and is quite busy around the holidays! The woman said she had a turkey in her freezer and wanted to know if it was still good. The turkey had been in her freezer for 25 years.
The person taking the call put her on hold and did some quick research with her fellow operators at Butterball. After consulting with others, the operator came back on the line and said that as long as it was frozen solid, and that the freezer had maintained a constant temperature, and that the turkey hadn’t been thawed out at any time, and the packaging was still intact, it is likely that the turkey was still okay.
But the operator stated that they did not they recommend it not be used just in case. The turkey owner said, “That’s okay, I was going to give it to the church anyway!”
What do we offer to God? Is it the best? Doesn’t God deserve our very best?
Note the words that Moses shares. Giving involves more than just giving. It also involves remembering. Remember.
Remember who God is, and what God has done for you.
Moses tells the people to say these words, “A wandering Aramean…” Remember Abraham and God’s promises to Abraham and his offspring. Remember what God has done. Remember what God continues to do. Remember.
What if we did that every Sunday before putting our offering in the plate, or filled out that form on line? Remember what God has done for you, and not just YOU but your family, your parents, grandparents, ancestors. See how God has brought us to where we are today.
God gives us His very best – his ONLY son, so that we might have life and have it abundantly. God gives his best. In return, may we do the same!
Let us pray: Thank you, God for all you have given us – ourselves, our time and our possessions. All these are signs of your gracious love. In response to these blessings we give back to you what you first have given us. Thank you! We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.