Sermon in a nutshell: How to be a leader in a community? (Leviticus 8:1-13)
It takes a community to raise a community leader.
We read Leviticus 1-5 and identified five offerings. Those are our faith statements. We say we will give our total commitment to God and give everything we have to God. We declared that we will make every effort to restore our relationship with God and with our neighbors. Then we read Leviticus 6-7 to see what is necessary to build a community. We identified the virtues of hard work, integrity, honesty, humbleness, and sacrifice. However, these virtues are nurtured in a community. We need a community to foster these virtues in leaders and members of the community.
Anointing ceremony embodies these virtues in concrete ways!
After God told Moses to anoint the priests, each priest then went through a special ceremony. The whole congregation assembled at the entrance of the meeting tent, just as we do around our friendship circle. They brought a bull and two rams with a basket of unleavened bread. Those were for the sin offering, the guilt offering, the peace offering, and the grain offering. The priest made the same faith confession through those offerings.
- The priest was washed with water. This symbolized repentance, cleansing of the heart, and readiness to serve. When we baptize new members, water is used to symbolize their repentance, washing of sins, and new birth. The feet washing ceremony on Maundy Thursday symbolized that we should love one another and serve one another.
- Then they put a tunic on the priest and fastened a sash around him, clothed him with a robe, and put an ephod (a garment) on him. Proper garments symbolize proper behaviors. We need not only clean hearts but also proper behaviors and words to do the job of the priests. Many times, uniforms and clothes that people wear show who they are and what they want to do. Garments are also a symbolic language that people use to express their ideas and feelings.
- Then they put a breastpiece on him and put Urim and Thummim on it. A breastpiece covers the breast and shows where one’s heart is. Urim and Thummim were tools to make decisions (modern times people use dice or something similar). So, it shows that when you make decisions, you have to follow your heart, not profit.
- Then they put a turban on his head and set a golden ornament, the holy crown, in front of it. Actually, it has letters that say “Holy to the Lord.” That means all the thoughts and concepts should be holy to God.
- Then they poured olive oil and anointed the tabernacle, utensils, basin, its base, and Aaron and his sons. Olive oil was used for health and its good smell. It showed them that their life should have a pleasant odor and healthy life style.
We encourage these virtues through these religious practices!
Our religious practices have certain purposes, which try to encourage the virtues among the members of the religious community and the people around it. We prioritize our live through the types of offerings in Leviticus: God first, Community Second, and Me last! This is counter-cultural! Our culture declares “Me first, community second and God last” (Sometimes NO GOD). So, by giving offerings, we are declaring that we are different people than the people of the world!
This anointing ceremony embodies the virtues of humility, humbleness, sacrifice, honesty, friendliness, compassion, and upright behavior. We want our children to learn those virtues from the community life.
Today we blessed the animals (our pets). Why do we do that? Because we want to foster those virtues that these animals stand for, we bless them among us: Courage, Loyalty, Uprightness, Diligence, Friendliness, Compassion, Innocence, and Wisdom.
Through these ceremonies and blessings we want to teach virtues to the members of our community so that we all can enjoy abundant life. So, bring the young people to church and let us raise them together. Every worship service is an opportunity for us both to praise God and to nurture ourselves.
- What kind of virtue does the “passing of peace” foster among us?
- What is the main virtue that an “offering” tries to teach?