Monday, September 26, 2011

Of Senses and Sacrifices

I am currently reading through the Book of Leviticus with one of my high school girls, and I have to say that I am really excited as I haven't read that book since high school. When Clara and I read Genesis and Exodus together, the questions we answered were analytical (who are the main characters, what happens, etc.) whereas the questions we are answering for Leviticus make frequent connections to the New Testament and are asking us to contextualize the passages. I thought this was a better way to go since Clara has never read the Book of Leviticus and I didn't want her to get scared by it. There's so much beauty and meaning that I would hate for her to miss!

Little did I expect how challenging I would find answering my own questions to be. Leviticus 2 discusses the grain offering, and like everything else in the book, does so with abundant detail. One of the discussion questions was "why is it significant for grain to be used in the offering?" Pretty simple, right?

I started thinking about grain - everything grain is used for, the way it tastes, the way it smells, etc. I reread the passage and the description of the offering came alive. What I saw was that all five senses were being engaged with this sacrifice: you SEE the grain being prepared, you SMELL the grain as it is mixed with incense and olive oil, you FEEL the grain as you bake it either in the oven or in a pan, you HEAR the sounds as you and then the priest prepare the offering, and finally you TASTE the offering as the aromas fill the air. I think Aaron and his sons were actually the only people who could eat the offering, right?

It struck me that this sacrifice and all other sacrifices described engaged all the senses in such a dynamic way. Why is there the need for that? As I wrote in my journal I started thinking about sin - how no act of sin is tied to an action that then dies. It spreads out and impacts other people, often in ways that I and others fail to realize. It can sometimes be all consuming and all encompassing. Maybe the reason sacrifice is so sensory is because the magnitude and the impact of sin is communicated this way. Maybe it's God saying "You thought that sin was just about the act of greed/pride/lust/anger, but by having this sacrifice touch each of your senses, I am showing you how much sin impacts your heart and others. I'm also reminding you of how deep and wide my love and grace is."

I'm not too sure is as clear as it was in my head. What really got me going was thinking about the biggest sacrifices I've made in my life and the way they do seem to require my whole self, all five senses. I can SEE the way my decisions impact others. I can FEEL the way sacrificing is painful but necessary. I can HEAR God as sacrifice makes my heart more tuned to his voice. I can SMELL the pleasing aroma that I am created to be and I can TASTE joy as I live with passion.

What do you think? Is there a link between the senses and sacrifice?

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