You shall eat your offerings before the Lord your God in the place that the Lord your God shall choose, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, and the Levite who is within your towns. And you shall rejoice before the Lord your God in all that you undertake.

Deuteronomy 12: 18

 

God did not want His people to perform their acts of sacrifice in isolation. He desired that the times of giving these gifts to Him would be times when the community of His people would gather together. These would be festive days of rejoicing together, and they would be times when people would confess, weep, and repent together. There was openness in God’s plan for sacrifice that would bring people closer together. It was important that the central reason for the gathering was to worship the Lord. Unity and commonality are found in God and through His presence.

 

There is also a striking note of inclusion here. Moses did not write a casual or a careless list of people to be included in these gatherings. In direct defiance of the culture of his times, Moses calls together both men and women, young and old, free and slave, the powerful and the underprivileged, and those who were independent and the ones who were cared for. The listing is intended to cover all of the possible individuals and classes of people who were present in the community. It was God’s desire that all people would find their common equality through His all-encompassing love and grace and that these characteristics of God would be made real by the Lord’s presence.

 

We live in a very different world. Our culture bears little resemblance to the one that Moses lived in. Yet, this need to gather in community is still with us. In fact, I think that we need this sort of total and equal gathering even more than these ancient people did. Christ desires for His people to gather together in His chosen place of presence. He wants us to celebrate life in all of its components from birth to death with Him. Where Christ is present there is cause for celebration. Any time that His people are together there is an opportunity to give thanks and to praise the Lord. There is no righteous endeavor that we may engage that should not be done in celebration, for Christ loves a party. As we join in together in experiencing life we can embrace with knowing hugs, laugh with delight, and wipe away the tears that sorrow brings. When we look on each other’s faces, we see a little more of the great beauty that is the Lord our God.

 

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