When you have entered the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance and have taken possession of it and settled in it, take some of the firstfruits of all that you produce from the soil of the land the Lord your God is giving you and put them in a basket. Then go to the place the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name and say to the priest in office at the time, “I declare today to the Lord your God that I have come to the land the Lord swore to our ancestors to give us.” The priest shall take the basket from your hands and set it down in front of the altar of the Lord your God. Then you shall declare before the Lord your God: “My father was a wandering Aramean,and he went down into Egypt with a few people and lived there and became a great nation, powerful and numerous. But the Egyptians mistreated us and made us suffer,subjecting us to harsh labor. Then we cried out to the Lord, the God of our ancestors, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our misery, toil and oppression. So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders. He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey; and now I bring the firstfruits of the soil that you, Lord, have given me.” Place the basket before the Lord your God and bow down before him. Then you and the Levites and the foreigners residing among you shall rejoice in all the good things the Lord your God has given to you and your household.
All this talk of tithing! It’s basically a tax, right? I mean, a voluntary tax – but a tax nonetheless. And who likes to pay tax? Certainly not the big multi-national companies, or rich people. As Leona Helmsley is reported to have said “Only little people pay taxes”. But what if this isn’t about money?
Or about produce, come to that? The passage in Deuteronomy is about joyfully giving back to the Lord a small part of the fruits of what the Lord has given us. And the Lord gave us life in all its fullness (John 10:10) so maybe Lent is a time for thinking about how we should joyfully give part of that life back to God. I wonder what that might look like? Or what it might involve for us today?
we are the fruits of your creation,
created in your image to do your work.
Guide us as we worship, work and play
that the harvest we try to cultivate,
for your honour,
may be plentiful and rewarding.
Leo Roberts is the CYDO for the North Western Synod
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