- compensate for the faults or bad aspects of
- ‘redeem oneself’: do something that compensates for poor performance or behaviour
- atone or make amends for
- save someone from sin, error or evil
- gain or regain possession of something in exchange for payment of some kind
- in finance, to repay, exchange (a coupon), clear a debt
- fulfil or carry out a pledge or promise
These definitions of a single word pretty much sum up all that we have covered in the month of November in the Book of Leviticus. God knows that the people will fail and disobey his commands and go their own way and get in all manner of messes – and this is why he sets out the way back. There will always be a way back. Redemption is a reality.
The last chapter of the book deals with vows and free-will offerings. These offerings cannot be sacrificed. People for example – this God was not into human sacrifice. But they could be dedicated to God – given to Him in recognition that ‘all things come from you, and of your own do we give you.’
We had a Service of Dedication for each of our children. This alternative to a Christening is called a Dedication or Thanksgiving. We had much to give thanks for and felt so blessed with the gift of each child that we wanted to dedicate them and their lives and our part in their upbringing to God.
With Luke, we tried for a long time to conceive without any luck and had started having medical investigations when I got pregnant. The birth was the most horrific thing ever (to my mind) and then I haemmorhaged a few days later and had to be rushed into hospital. He cried loud and hard for the first few months and needed constant stimulation. And yet he was the most treasured of all gifts and I still remember him in his little tartan trousers and braces at his Dedication at Castle Methodist Church, Colchester.
I had an elective caesarean with Keir and he was immediately rushed into special care with a hole in his lung. He was in special care for a week and Andy and I begged God for his life. When he was three months old – on New Years Eve – he was rushed into hospital with suspected meningitis – and when the lumbar puncture came back with blood in it (which later turned out to be an error), we were told his brain was bathed in blood and he would be brain damaged, and we again begged God for his life. So his life felt like a special gift right from the start.
Courtney came to us at eight months old and was a real joy. We fell in love with her and were heartbroken (but obviously pleased for her) when an adoptive placement was found for her and her two brothers. She had regular contact over a two week period with her new parents and we started helping her say goodbye to neighbours and at playgroup and gymtots – and then nothing. The couple backed out, realising taking on three little ones would be too much…..and we were allowed to adopt her. It really felt that God had specifically given her to us to care for and we wanted to dedicate her life back to God. Her Dedication took place at All Saints Chirch, Lobley Hill and was a joyful thanksgiving indeed.
Jordan and Nicola were dedicated together and our vicar Bob gave them a tambourine each as they were always dancing around. We had been given Jordan to care for from a day old and there was always something about him (and still is) – his gentleness and vulnerability and quirky facial expressions made everyone fall in love with him. We asked to adopt him because we could not imagine life without him and then fought to adopt his sibling Nicola too. And that was a real fight – social workers were divided and we prayed that God’s will would be done. And then when she came and it was all such hard work and I was reduced to tears every day, it didn’t feel like God’s will at all and we had to rely on His strength and grace to get through every day. But where would we be now without our funny, feisty Nicola Grace?
I’m sure all parents out there have their own stories to tell about why their children are so precious to them. We all sense as parents that we do not own our children, that they do not belong to us – they are lent to us for a season to care for and love until they are ready to move on…..they will always be in our hearts of course. I always think of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and how she watched Jesus grow and ‘treasured all these things in her heart.’ This is what we do as mothers. Especially mothers of adopted children, where the realities of a birth family are never far away…..
There’s a poem out there I’ve seen on a bookmark about this whole subject…about our children being lent to us for a season. Maybe you know what it is and can let me know. This isn’t it but expresses the same sentiment –
“CHILDREN ARE A GIFT FROM GOD”
“Watch over them with all your love
And let them feel your touch
Take care of their every need
For you are needed very much.”
“These gifts will grow up very fast
As you soon will see
Love them with all your heart
And let them be what they will be.”
“When these gifts have fully grown
Look at Heaven up above
Know they exist because of God
And all his precious love.”
Author: Sandra Tolson
Anyway, back to the passage – in the opening verses, monetary value is put on each offered individual, according to age and gender – followed by the same with animals, houses and fields. No actual change of ownership takes place, but the people are to recognise that all that they have comes from God and ‘of his own do they give him,’
V30-33 deals with tithing, giving a tenth of everything to God. This is still practised and preached in many churches today. I’m not really sure why. It is an Old Testament practice – Jesus never mentions it – and my view is that everything we have is God’s anyway, so we should freely give of our resources, our friendship, our love, our skills, our time, our home, our hospitality, as and when we are prompted by God to do so. Giving to God is not just about giving to the church – it’s about being a living sacrifice in every part of our lives. Giving to the church matters of course – if we attend church and enjoy all that it has to offer, then we have a duty to contribute financially (and with our time and talents) to the work of our church. But across the whole of our lives, a tenth should never be enough. The other 90% is not ever automatically ours to do what we like with. Everything we have and are comes from God – we are simply giving back to Him what is rightfully His anyway. This is about sacrifice, yes, but it is also about living life to the full, being fully human, living as God intended humankind to live…..and it is wonderful and joyful and a glorious adventure. It’s about travelling light, being set free from holding too tight to our possessions and people. It’s about joining God in the incredibly exciting work of redeeming all people and the whole planet….and it continues right here, right now with you and me.
So that’s it, folks! Leviticus is done and dusted (lol – tongue in cheek obv!). Anyway, I will see you back here in December as we start the next part of our journey in the Book of Numbers – when I will be another year older and wiser and embarking on the second half of my life with all the adventures and challenges and celebrations of the next 50 years to look forward to (God willing x)……..