Discover more from Sermons and Spirits
This Wasn't Meant to be Forever
An Ode to Burnt Offerings
I have been thinking a lot about burnt offerings lately, the requirement of God for the people of God to honor God by taking the best animals, the best cuts of meat, the best pair of doves, and burn them in the temple as a symbol of devotion. The smoke a cleansing of forgiveness and mercy.
Maybe I am thinking about burnt offerings because I currently wait tables at a restaurant that specializes in hamburgers and chicken wings. The smell of cooking meat and frying fat is what I am greeted with when I walk in the door. I greet my dog with that same smell when I come home every night. That smell sticks in the air, it sticks on your clothes and your hair and the shoes that the dog sniffs when you came home with your feet hurting.
God always asked for the pieces with the most fat. The most smells. The most power to stick around. But the offering was consumed by the fire, it was not meant to stick around.
Many people preach about burnt offerings when they talk about gifts to the church. They talk about first fruits and fattened calves and giving God your best. They talk about this when they are asking for money for the new building campaign, pledges for the new sanctuary, tithes for the new commercial kitchen, investment into the new children’s wing, a sure sign of a growing and healthy church.
No one talks about what happens when those gifts given in good faith are no longer needed. What do you do with a commercial kitchen and no annual ladies bizarre and pie making extravaganza? What happens to the children’s when there are no children? What happens to the gifts that people gave faithfully that now sit empty and collect dust and require the congregation to heat and cool and insure?
I wonder a lot if things that were given faithfully to the Lord are supposed to last forever. Sometimes pipe organs go out of style and the person who watcher their mother bake plate after plate of after church pasta dinner is there to watch the new pastor call the congregation to a vote and have them almost unanimously agree that the pipe organ console needs to be removed, leave more room on the stage for the praise band. Of course that hurt their feelings. Didn’t anyone care about the work that had been done? Shouldn’t it get to stay as a way to honor the sacrifice? Won’t that honor God?
I don’t think it does. And I think it is a hard reality to embrace that while our God maybe forever and ever our buildings and building accoutrements are more like burnt offerings, or should be. Maybe they are meant to be simply a smell in the wind, one generations told us about but we never actually saw. I wish we were brave enough to believe again, that burnt offerings were enough.