more than the leftovers

kathyescobar spiritual formation 21 Comments

yesterday was the june synchroblog focused on faith, feasts & foreshadowing & the connections between the jewish celebration of shavout & the christian celebration of pentecost.  there are some really good posts, check out the links below.  i have had a nutty week and didn’t think i was going to participate and then yesterday, as i re-read some of the passages, a few thoughts (that might be a little on the well-that’s-a-stretch-to-make-that-connection-but-it’s-just-what-i-thought-of) came to mind.

i haven’t studied the ins and outs of all of the different jewish celebrations, but i am always fascinated by their incredible rich traditions of honoring God in creative & deeply meaningful ways. shavout is a celebration of the giving of the torah & has various traditions associated with it. the timing was connected to the harvest & so part of the celebration was the offering of their first-fruits.  to honor this celebration, they brought the best stuff from their harvest to God as a symbol of gratitude.

pentecost is the marker in the christian story of the coming of the holy spirit. i love the wildness of it all & even though i have never been a charismatic in the typical  church-y sense of the world, i am a firm believer that the holy spirit is alive & well at work in our lives, moving us, challenging us, prompting us, strengthening us, encouraging us, convicting us, calling us to love.   the holy spirit stirred up some radical moving in this story in acts 2, and the result was a whole bunch of people who said “this is The Way i am going to follow”.  their hearts were united in far more than just spirit, and they gave up much of what was familiar to share freely their hearts, resources, and lives to lean into their new contagious faith together.

many of us often talk about the need for the church to be like “acts 2”.  we should eat together more, pray together more, share together more.  i completely agree.  i know that even though our community is very dedicated to life together, there are so many ways that we fall short of the deep, desperate connection of needing each other for real survival like the early church.  many of my friends are still on government services.  we live all over the place in denver.  even though in some ways we are interdependent, in many others we are still extremely independent.

i think for so many of us it’s because we have been taught to give our “leftovers” instead of our “firstfruits” when it comes to all kinds of things related to faith.    i know as i’m saying this, i am in danger of sounding shaming (especially for those who have been beaten over the head by churches to give more, serve more), and that’s the last thing i mean.  the part that i resonated with as i reflected on shavout & pentecost  is how so much of our contemporary christian life is about fringe behaviors that keep us somehow “doing God stuff”  but don’t really challenge us to something far more sacrificial, humble, and ultimately free.

we care on our terms

we keep our hands from getting “too dirty”

we like things our way

we don’t want to hurt or be inconvenienced

we work hard to stay in control

often, we keep our pride & independence intact as much as possible


to me, these are all ways that we give our leftovers because it’s much easier than giving our firstfruits.  we give when it works for us.  we love when it’s easy.  we share our bread & pasta with the hungry instead of our meat and fruit.  what it comes down to, i think, is that we do what we can to not be too desperate, or too poured out.

the wind & fire of pentecost stirred in the people there a desperation & desire that i long for–and am really scared to embrace. i’m reminded how God is not tame.  God is wild. love is wild.  God calls us to wild things, wild love, too. and as much as i like to talk about the wildness of God, often, when i’m honest,  i prefer things a little more tame. domesticated, a little more on my terms.

tame keeps me in control.   more comfortable, more protected.

wildness feels out of my control.

and usually doesn’t come from the leftovers.

it comes from  the sacrifice of the firstfruits, from bravely stepping out and into all kinds of ways of giving, loving, sharing, being, doing that require the wind of God to move us.

these are just a few of my thoughts in the moment; i realize as i write them they are half-baked, but that’s okay because that’s what blogging is all about, the ability to process & consider things out loud without having anything all wrapped up.

i’d love to know what are some of the ways you are touched, moved, and challenged by pentecost.

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