more than the leftovers

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yesterday was the june synchroblog focused on faith, feasts & foreshadowing & the connections between the jewish celebration of shavout & the christian celebration of pentecost.  there are some really good posts, check out the links below.  i have had a nutty week and didn’t think i was going to participate and then yesterday, as i re-read some of the passages, a few thoughts (that might be a little on the well-that’s-a-stretch-to-make-that-connection-but-it’s-just-what-i-thought-of) came to mind.

i haven’t studied the ins and outs of all of the different jewish celebrations, but i am always fascinated by their incredible rich traditions of honoring God in creative & deeply meaningful ways. shavout is a celebration of the giving of the torah & has various traditions associated with it. the timing was connected to the harvest & so part of the celebration was the offering of their first-fruits.  to honor this celebration, they brought the best stuff from their harvest to God as a symbol of gratitude.

pentecost is the marker in the christian story of the coming of the holy spirit. i love the wildness of it all & even though i have never been a charismatic in the typical  church-y sense of the world, i am a firm believer that the holy spirit is alive & well at work in our lives, moving us, challenging us, prompting us, strengthening us, encouraging us, convicting us, calling us to love.   the holy spirit stirred up some radical moving in this story in acts 2, and the result was a whole bunch of people who said “this is The Way i am going to follow”.  their hearts were united in far more than just spirit, and they gave up much of what was familiar to share freely their hearts, resources, and lives to lean into their new contagious faith together.

many of us often talk about the need for the church to be like “acts 2”.  we should eat together more, pray together more, share together more.  i completely agree.  i know that even though our community is very dedicated to life together, there are so many ways that we fall short of the deep, desperate connection of needing each other for real survival like the early church.  many of my friends are still on government services.  we live all over the place in denver.  even though in some ways we are interdependent, in many others we are still extremely independent.

i think for so many of us it’s because we have been taught to give our “leftovers” instead of our “firstfruits” when it comes to all kinds of things related to faith.    i know as i’m saying this, i am in danger of sounding shaming (especially for those who have been beaten over the head by churches to give more, serve more), and that’s the last thing i mean.  the part that i resonated with as i reflected on shavout & pentecost  is how so much of our contemporary christian life is about fringe behaviors that keep us somehow “doing God stuff”  but don’t really challenge us to something far more sacrificial, humble, and ultimately free.

we care on our terms

we keep our hands from getting “too dirty”

we like things our way

we don’t want to hurt or be inconvenienced

we work hard to stay in control

often, we keep our pride & independence intact as much as possible

 

to me, these are all ways that we give our leftovers because it’s much easier than giving our firstfruits.  we give when it works for us.  we love when it’s easy.  we share our bread & pasta with the hungry instead of our meat and fruit.  what it comes down to, i think, is that we do what we can to not be too desperate, or too poured out.

the wind & fire of pentecost stirred in the people there a desperation & desire that i long for–and am really scared to embrace. i’m reminded how God is not tame.  God is wild. love is wild.  God calls us to wild things, wild love, too. and as much as i like to talk about the wildness of God, often, when i’m honest,  i prefer things a little more tame. domesticated, a little more on my terms.

tame keeps me in control.   more comfortable, more protected.

wildness feels out of my control.

and usually doesn’t come from the leftovers.

it comes from  the sacrifice of the firstfruits, from bravely stepping out and into all kinds of ways of giving, loving, sharing, being, doing that require the wind of God to move us.

these are just a few of my thoughts in the moment; i realize as i write them they are half-baked, but that’s okay because that’s what blogging is all about, the ability to process & consider things out loud without having anything all wrapped up.

i’d love to know what are some of the ways you are touched, moved, and challenged by pentecost.

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other bloggers sharing this month, check them out…

 

 

 

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar co-pastors at The Refuge, a Christian community and mission center in North Denver and is the author of Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

21 Comments

  • I am trying to wrap my head around the concept of tameness vs. Wildness. I am tempted to say I don’t feel either, but maybe that just means I am off the chart on tame when it comes to god. Otherwise the rest of life often times feels wild.

    Reply
    • thanks lisa, for reading & sharing. sometimes i think i’m wilder than i really am, that’s what i noticed this past week when thinking about this. let’s hike one of these days & catch up.

      Reply
  • We’ve visited a couple of those Acts 2 groups. The people were nice, but insulated from the outside world. This can be a problem with some house churches and organic churches.

    To me, Pentecost means the Spirit is here with us, and not for us only, but for everyone, not just my little group of believers. It’s not my job to convince people they’re sinners, to convince them to follow Jesus or to “convert” them (convert means so many different things to different people). That’s all up to the Spirit. Pentecost means the Spirit is here, so I can relax and forget about trying to do that stuff. I can relax and just love people, especially those who are not easy to love.

    Reply
    • hey sam, the insulation thing is what i think can be dangerous. i am so with you, we don’t have the market cornered on the holy spirit, that’s for sure. the spirit is alive & well at work in all kinds of ways that supersede all of our limitations. thanks for sharing.

      Reply
  • I love this post. I am not a practicing mainstream Christian anymore.. i find myself in another part of god’s camp. but i do relate and encourage and celebrate your Wild God Wild Love !!! thanks for this post!
    i hope you get a chance to read mine sometime soon….

    Reply
    • thanks so much sarita, my hope is to read these posts this week & i’m looking forward to the wind…thanks i love that you are finding hope and life in new wild places.

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  • Listening to your words makes me want to change my life more.

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    • that makes me smile 🙂 being part of the refuge makes me want to change my life more…

      Reply
  • I agree on the independent side…sometimes I think “big city” has a little bit to do with it. I could be wrong, but I have seen small towns literally “stop” when another community member needs something. I think small communities can do that easier because you find a lot of self-employed or workers that work for small companies that KNOW community comes first and no one is going to get fired or lose a paycheck for stopping to take care of someone in need. Just a thought…but, I will save it for my cultural diversity presentation coming up! 😉
    Great post, PK! “we care on our terms”…you hit the nail on the head with that one!

    Reply
    • yeah, the independence part is so hard because it’s deeply embedded in our culture. it’s tricky for us, too, because we’re all so spread apart geographically so we have to work extra hard at it…thanks for sharing.

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  • Totally resonate with how &^%#@ hard is it to not just do the part of the Acts 2 life of physically showing up, but also allowing my life to be interdependent. If I am honest, I have been responsible for my own needs for the majority of my life. It makes me feel really uncomfortable to even *think* about relinquinshing that kind of control, that layer of self-protection. But, reading & seeing in a new light the idea of God calling us to even more of a wild adventure, well it makes me think. (I kind of thought that my big “adventure” was over… ;)… Looks like this living into the ways of Jesus thing challenges me, us, to continue to grow out of old skin, and renew over and over. Molting is hard.

    Reply
    • yeah, the adventure was much more than packing up the car & rusty & quitting a good paying job, wasn’t it??? that was just a mild preview 🙂 rebirth is painful & beautiful and i’m glad we have each other to be midwives.

      Reply
  • i think of the water/holy spirit connection, and like when a pipe breaks in the basement the water first finds the lowest spot, (the poor?) and secondly gets into places i would never expect
    i admit i am a holy spirit ignor-er, i dont think about her that much- but then all of sudden yesterday i saw this once every few years miracle.
    for sure, the holy spirit is the wild card of the trinity and is seldom tame!

    Reply
    • i love that imagery, karl, so good. yeah, it’s those little weird had-to-be-the-holy-spirit-because-what-else-could-it-be moments that remind us of how much is always at play and how beautiful it is when people listen to its whisper & call…thanks for reading & taking time to share.

      Reply
  • Kathy, I have been reflecting on first fruits vs leftovers since I read your post- well said.
    k

    Reply
  • That was very beautiful and challenging. Thanks so much for sharing. I always love what you write.

    Reply

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