By Jim Brenneman, president of Goshen College
Reprinted from Lenten Devotions
DEVOTIONAL: The Book of Deuteronomy is comprised largely of three sermons of a very old Moses speaking to a new generation of people about to enter the Promised Land. In this text, Moses sounds a bit like a mom or dad driving their family on the journey of a lifetime with tired kids in the back seat complaining, “Are we there yet?” “Not yet, kids,” he responds, “But when we get there, I promise you that half the fun of this trip will be in looking back at the memories we are making right now. We’ll look back at pictures taken in Iowa’s “Field of Dreams.” We’ll laugh at running out of gas in Gallup. We’ll remember the thrill of seeing a bear and her cub in Yellowstone, the shiver of fear on the Grand Canyon Skywalk. We’ll recount sleeping under the stars in Joshua Tree. And you know what, it’s hard to appreciate it right now on this God-awful barren stretch of desert, but it will be worth it, the minute you see the Pacific Ocean. I promise. ‘Then we’ll rejoice in all the good things the Lord our God has given us!’”
And so it is that on this Lenten journey over hills and through the vales of life, on this Lenten journey through trials and tribulations, on this Lenten journey on the barren road to Easter, let us remember in advance, how God heard the complaints of our spiritual ancestors in like moments and delivered them into a land flowing with milk and honey in God’s perfect time. Let us remember and bow.
SCRIPTURE: Deuteronomy 26:1-11 (NRSV)
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, 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. 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.’ When the priest takes the basket from your hand and sets it down before the altar of the Lord your God, 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. When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labour on us, we cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors; the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. 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; and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. 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. 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.