“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.” (Deuteronomy 26:1-2)
I am sitting down to write about this passage having prepared and served a Friday night meal to my family – very savory and tasty it was! I did not grow any of it myself, but relied on our local grocery store. But it was bought with money I had earned from a job that I feel came from God, and the Lord has sustained me in this job for the past 5 years. I am very thankful for the Lord’s blessing in my being able to work, earn, and provide for my family.
“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 labor 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.” (Verses 3-10a)
When we moved to Eugene Oregon from the Midwest we were not sure what we would find here, whether it would be a hospitable place for our family. It has been going on 10 years now, and while there have been some rough times and I am sure there will be rough times in the future, it has been a good move for us overall.
I do not know if this “land” is a place that God promised us; or whether God went ahead of us to prepare a place. During the rough times we have wondered if it would have been better to stay where we were. But rough times come to everyone. We have made a place for ourselves, and we call it home now.
I have some experience in leaving one place for another and calling the new place “home.” I started my life journey in southern Ontario, Canada. I moved down to Indiana for college, met my husband and become a resident “alien” myself. And then as I said, became a west coaster, and close to the western edge of Canada although I have not been there. Each time I moved from one place to another, I have hoped and prayed that God would go ahead of me and be there when I arrived. And it has been so.
“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.” (Verses 10b to 11)
I know what it means to be a “stranger in a strange land” and have been the recipient of many types of welcomes. There is right now in our nation several movements that have varying views on immigrants. My view pretty much coincides with verse 11.
Those people who are new comers to this nation have come from backgrounds and places that have not been kind. Perhaps they feel that God has showed a mighty and an outstretched arm, and all the other things this passage attributes to God. It seems to me, beloved reader, without knowing whether God’s hand and might has brought these people to us we should welcome them and enfold them. Just food for thought as we move through this first week of Lent – when we are depending on God and Jesus Christ’s grace and mercy. Selah!