Leviticus 23:26-41 (NRSV)
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Now, the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you: you shall deny yourselves and present the Lord's offering by fire; and you shall do no work during that entire day; for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement on your behalf before the Lord your God. For anyone who does not practice self-denial during that entire day shall be cut off from the people. And anyone who does any work during that entire day, such a one I will destroy from the midst of the people. You shall do no work: it is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your settlements. It shall be to you a sabbath of complete rest, and you shall deny yourselves; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening you shall keep your sabbath.
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the people of Israel, saying: On the fifteenth day of this seventh month, and lasting seven days, there shall be the festival of booths to the Lord. The first day shall be a holy convocation; you shall not work at your occupations. Seven days you shall present the Lord's offerings by fire; on the eighth day you shall observe a holy convocation and present the Lord's offerings by fire; it is a solemn assembly; you shall not work at your occupations.
These are the appointed festivals of the Lord, which you shall celebrate as times of holy convocation, for presenting to the Lord offerings by fire -- burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings, each on its proper day -- apart from the sabbaths of the Lord, and apart from your gifts, and apart from all your votive offerings, and apart from all your freewill offerings, which you give to the Lord.
Now, the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall keep the festival of the Lord, lasting seven days; a complete rest on the first day, and a complete rest on the eighth day. On the first day you shall take the fruit of majestic trees, branches of palm trees, boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. You shall keep it as a festival to the Lord seven days in the year; you shall keep it in the seventh month as a statute forever throughout your generations.
Today's devotion locates us squarely in the season of Lent. During this time of year, Christians fast, pray, and confess our sin to God.
In the Leviticus reading, we see that God also pairs sabbath rest with confession. It is not until we slow down from all the busyness of life that we are able to really connect with The Divine.
As we rest into quietude, we hear Spirit bringing to remembrance the many ways in which we have failed to love God with all of our hearts, minds, souls, and strength and loved our neighbors as ourselves.
It is when we allow Spirit to convict us that we are most able to truthfully confess our sin and receive God's forgiveness.
I am so glad that God's Love gave Jesus to die on the cross to save us from our sin and gift us with eternal life. I am also happy-glad that Jesus did not stay dead, but was resurrected on the third day, just as he promised that he would!
Because of Jesus' once and for all atonement for sin, God's forgiveness is always readily available.
Won't you make some time today to get quiet with God, so that you can get right with God too?
Holy One, thank you for the call to get still and quiet in your presence. I confess that I have been too busy lately. I have prioritized things and people above my relationship with you. Please help me to slow down, confess my sin, and receive your forgiveness. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
If you have questions about how to become a friend and follower of Jesus, please see the devotion entitled, “Come to Jesus” @ http://bit.ly/JVhaL