A passage from the book of Deuteronomy (see bottom of post) percolates in my mind as I prepare today for our Thanksgiving Feast. Buying the “grain and wine and oil and ‘whatever our appetite craves'” is an audacious gesture of faith for my family; it’s a pledge, a tithe, an indulgent statement of trust saying, “You brought us through this year and You will bring us through another, and we are going to rejoice.” The money stretches, the joy stretches too, and we always look back and think, “I don’t know how we got here, but we did.”
This picture of God laid out in Deuteronomy 14 makes me my spirit sing, discovering him to be One who would say, “when I bless you, take your tithe and turn it into money and spend the money for whatever your appetite craves, whatever you desire, and eat there before the Lord your God and rejoice!” He’s a God who commands his people to celebrate, be glad, who says “take this tithe you’ve set apart for me, and use it to feast and be merry.”
He’s a God big enough and large enough to keep the world turning while we stop fretting and laboring, whole enough and kind enough to keep an eye on the awful groaning of Creation even while we (in faith) set aside time from struggles and sorrow simply be thankful and happy.
This picture of God makes my heart grow large and contrite, seeing that the only additional instruction is: SHARE. Share with the orphan, the widow, the ministers of faith, and the immigrants in your midst. Share of your inheritance with the one who has no inheritance, so that all are able to feast, so that God may bless you in all the work of your hands.
Rejoice and be merry.
Remember the God who made you and sustains you for he holds space for your joy even while carrying your pain.
“You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year. And before the Lord your God, in the place that he will choose, to make his name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always.
“And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the Lord your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the Lord your God chooses, to set his name there, then you shall turn it into money and bind up the money in your hand and go to the place that the Lord your God chooses and spend the money for whatever you desire—oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the Lord your God and rejoice, you and your household…
“And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the stranger (sojourner/immigrant – refugees?), the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.”