Lent Devotions: A sigh of relief

Design by Doug Puller/Bread for the World.

Editor’s note: This Lent season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals written by staff, alumni, and friends of the San Francisco Theological Seminary, which is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).  

By Brooklynn Smith 

Deuteronomy 26:1-11        

Ever had a long day, bear a heavy load, or barely make it through the end of your hour-long Zumba class? Ever have a near miss, or have someone unexpectedly offer you help just in the nick of time?

I sure have. I bet you have, too. And remember that delicious sigh of relief? There is little like it.

I believe the audience of this passage is also breathing a huge sigh of relief. After many trials and years of wandering, they have reached a new land. Sigh! They made it.

They could plant vineyards, raise livestock. They could sink their roots into this new, fertile ground.

This story doesn’t end with a simple sigh of relief, though. God instructs them to ritualize their sigh of relief. To bring the first fruits of their labors to God.

At some point, these people will forget the toil of desert wandering. The generation of enslaved persons will have passed away. Some of the children may not understand what a “Wandering Aramean” is! The sigh of relief experienced by the founding generation will be no more. But this ritual will be. Every harvest, the first fruits will be brought to God, and the generations to come will remember the providence of God. They will remember that God fulfills God’s promises.

I invite you to ritualize your sighs of relief during this Lent. Maybe even enter worship services breathing a sigh of relief. Remember God’s great love for us, and God’s tender care for us. Breathe a sigh of relief on Easter morning, because death is no more. Breathe a sigh of relief: We are forgiven and raised into new, eternal life in Christ.

Brooklynn Smith is pursuing her Master of Divinity degree at San Francisco Theological Seminary.

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