Scripture Lesson – Deuteronomy 26:1–11(NRSV)F
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 Lordyour God that I have come into the land that the Lordswore 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.
Upon reaching the Promised Land the Israelites are instructed to remember, give thanks, and make an offering. They are to always remember who it was that created, promised and delivered them. They are to assume an attitude of gratitude. And offering back to God from the first fruits of the land flowing with milk and honey.
It was truly to be a grand gesture by a grateful people.
A few weeks back a friend came into town and asked if we could meet. We ended up having a lovely dinner and time of conversation. Near the end of the meal our friend took a deep breath and announced a deep gratitude for the way my wife Susan and I had impacted her life. It was a grand gesture by a grateful person and it meant so much to us.
Perhaps the best thing you and I can do this Lenten season is to make a grand gesture out of our grateful hearts? Is there someone who has made a difference in your life? Maybe someone who helped you through a difficult period in life or spoke words that gave you confidence? May I suggest that now is the time to let them know.
Make that phone call, write that letter, send that email, extend that invite.
And let us not forget to do the same for our God who, as with the Israelites, has been incredibly faithful to us, for us, and through us. We do this through our prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness in God’s honor.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you have been faithful throughout all generations including ours. Thank you for the days behind me and the day immediately before me.