Sermon 1: Chapters 1-8: A holy people who get things wrong
Why we are looking at Leviticus
Where Leviticus fits into the Biblical story – part of the Torah, the foundation blocks around which a people are formed, prophets find their touchstones for obedience and which Jesus engages with in his ministry.
How it flows out of Exodus – and the emphasis on the building of the place where they can meet with God.
Sacrifices: The range of them in terms of animals offered and the range of purposes they filled.
Why sacrifice? Because of the power of sin – I wanted to highlight that we don’t see God as an aged aunt who is easily offended or hyper-sensitive, but rather we understand that sin destroys the beauty of creation and humanity – the destruction of all that God created. Sin takes the good and warps it into something horrific. I was preaching this in the midst of the ongoing revelations about Jimmy Saville and other celebrities who are being accused of using their celebrity-power to take advantage of children and the vulnerable. If ever there was an example of how sin takes so mnay good things and warps them, this is it.
The passages highlight the seriousness of sin – the fact that it takes into account unintentional sin and the fact that the whole community are prone to it – priests and people and all are made provision for.
Does it help us live with people with less stress when we remember that they are prone to sin – as we are? Our judgementalism often comes from our belief that they should be perfect…. And they let us down. They act as they are – sinners. As we do!
That’s why the power of the cross is so potent – without it we could be bringing animals every week….
But as it is, we don’t need to because of the sacrifice of Jesus (Hebrews 9) hat we might be at peace with God. The primary need of God’s people is to know that they are at peace with God, at peace with themselves and at peace with each other.
You can’t begin to be a people living for the sake of others if we are not at peace with yourselves….
But once I am, I can offer grace to those around me – in the office, at home, in the neighbourhood. And I can offer my body as a sacrifice – the offering back of who I am in the light of the offering of Jesus. Romans 12 become the gateway into communion – the next part of our worship service.