The Feast of Grocery Day
I’ve been meal planning for the past several years. I find that without a plan, our budget (along with my sense of sanity) flies out the window every dinnertime. So every fortnight, I can be found driving home with a car full of groceries that will carry my family through the next two weeks. The simple act has become a ritual of sorts. The kids await shopping day to supply new batches of yogurt and replenished snacks. I look forward to fresh produce and all the ways to use up my lettuce.
And each day, as I watch my fridge go from empty to bursting and see cans and boxes crowd our pantry, my heart can’t help feel a sense of—safety. I have food for our family. Everything I’ll need to cook is right here already. The feeling is freeing, but also sobering. How is it that I can easily fill my storerooms to the brim? What if I wasn’t able to?
As I freeze my chicken and wash my apples each grocery day, I’m always reminded of the ties to the Israelites’ feasts, particularly the Feast of Firstfruits. The Feast of Firstfruits was a celebration during the very beginning of the spring harvest. On the day following Passover, the Israelites went out into the barley fields, selected a sheaf from their budding harvest, and gave it to the priest who would offer it to the Lord (Lev. 23:9-14). Prior to this offering, no one was allowed to take from the harvest. This first offering was an important act so that the rest of the harvest would be acceptable to the Lord.
For a society built upon agriculture, this offering was a somewhat difficult act. The harvest of their fields provided not only their source of food, but their source of income. It granted them safety. Yet each feast, they cut from their earnings for burning as a thank offering to the Lord who provided it for them. They didn’t know whether or not their spring barley would continue to be fruitful, yet they gave their first produce, hoping more would follow.
The ritual of the firstfruits lifted their eyes from the safety of the fields to the safety of their God. He had already carried them from the darkness of Egypt and the destitution of the wilderness into a land of plenty. And now they trusted each harvest unto him, expecting bounty to come by his hand.
Yet this feast, like all the others instituted by God, was created for more. The Feast of Firstfruits looked ahead beyond the safety of mere food on the table. It speaks to a safety that would hold God’s people, and us, every day.
Because when it comes down to it, we might want the protection of overflowing pantries, but alongside that desire, our hearts cry for a fuller sort of safety. Our hurting hearts want to know if our past failures can be forgiven. Our deteriorating bodies ache for the safety of a day without pain. Our weary souls wonder when evil will end its reign on the nightly news. We long for hope, for renewal, for real life. We long for a lasting safety beyond the current harvest of a weekly shopping trip.
Many years ago, on the Feast of Firstfruits, the unthinkable happened: Jesus’s resurrected body walked out of the grave that very morning. Christ became the firstfruits offering for his children, guaranteeing their safety. Like the Israelite priests before him, Jesus, our High Priest, offered his blameless life and his substitute death on our behalf. Because his offering was accepted, we can be sure we will be accepted. We don’t have to live in fear that our past will overcome us, but instead we can rest in the safety of the words that declare “there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
Not only that, but because Christ was raised again to life in a new body, we, too, will rise again to new life. Paul reminds us of our resurrection life to come: “each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ”(1 Cor. 15:23). We have the secure hope of a blessed resurrection—into a new earth where the enemy of death will be trampled forever (1 Cor. 15:25-26). Our groans that long for redemption will be satisfied (Rom. 8:23). Our pain will be gone and every fear will depart from the life-giving safety of our Lord. Can you imagine it?
The next time you stock your pantry or load groceries into your fridge, spend some time marveling at the firstfruits offering of Christ. Remember the hope it promises us as children of God. The safety of his first harvest guarantees our hope more than any can of tomato sauce will ever do.
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