I love Autumn; it brings a change of colors, cooler temperatures, pumpkins, squash, and apples (which means pie, cider, and apple sauce are soon to follow). Autumn brings with it a time of harvest, of celebrating the fruits of the earth, and expressing our gratitude for all God has provided. In Deuteronomy 26 the people of Israel are given instructions on how to offer their tithe, the first fruits of their harvest, to God. These instructions include where and how to present the offerings, how much is to be offered, and what to say when making the offering. The other instruction given is what happens with the tithe after it has been offered to God. The offering is to be given to the Levites (priestly tribe of Israel), to the widows, to the orphans, and to immigrants residing with the people.
This Autumn as we enjoy carving pumpkins, drinking cider, and picking that last produce from our gardens let us consider what first fruits we might offer to God, be they of time, talent, or treasure. As we consider what first fruits we might offer, let us discern how those offerings might go on to support and provide for the church, for those in our society who are in need, and for those who have come to live among us looking for opportunity, safety, and a new start, just as the Israelite offerings supported the Levites, orphans, widows, and immigrants.
In the instruction found in Deuteronomy 26 the people of Israel are reminded that the God they offer their first fruits to is the God who heard their cries and liberated them from bondage in Egypt. We give our offerings to the same God, who came to us in the person of Jesus to save us from sin and death. In the Israelite offerings and in ours not only is the God who saves us honored, but the offerings go on to contribute to the liberation of those in need around us. This Autumn, may we find ourselves grateful for all God has given us and out of that gratitude give back to God and support those in need in our community and our world.
Peace and Blessings,