Prayer: O God, give us guidance and wisdom through your Word, in Christ. Amen.
5 you shall make this response before the Lord your God: “A wandering Aramean was my ancestor…”
God commands us to give of our “First Fruits.” Our devotion writer’s family came to US from Mexico to escape the Mexican revolution. They were befriended and helped by a German Lutheran farmer’s family and introduced to the Lutheran faith. They learned to share from their bounty. The faith stayed with his family.
When the Israelites settled in the Promised Land, it was similar. God instructed them to give back from the first harvests and to remember the deliverance from slavery in Egypt. As part of their tradition they were to share from their bounty even with the aliens who reside with them.
We have adopted similar observances with our own Thanksgiving, when we remember the bounty that God has provided and in turn share with others. God’s command was for ten percent giving “off the top.” To many that means before taxes, but others may not agree. Many also proclaim that 10 percent is just the minimum and have increased their tithing well beyond the 10 percent.
We in this country have been truly blessed. Most of us have more than we need from God’s blessings. It doesn’t hurt once one gets in the habit of writing the first check to God every payday.
Our devotion writer explains; “Our tradition teaches that we are all resident aliens on a pilgrimage of faith. Our final home awaits us in eternity.”
Prayer: “Holy One, teach us to remember our past, so as to be faithful resident aliens. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
First Fruits and Tithes
26 When 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, 2 you 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. 3 You 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.” 4 When the priest takes the basket from your hand and sets it down before the altar of the Lord your God, 5 you 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. 6 When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labor on us, 7 we cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors; the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. 8 The 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; 9 and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. 10 So 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. 11 Then 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.