Valentine's Day always reminds me of my school days. Elementary days were filled with doily, heartshaped Valentines. Everyone in my class gave them; everyone in my class received them. Once we hit Junior High, though, the stakes got higher and the Valentines got fewer but with more intention and meaning.
I had my hopes and my eyes set on one, Dan E., in Junior High. Of course, he didn't know it. I could never tell him myself, that would be way too embarrassing. So I had a mediator, my best friend, Ellen, tell him I liked him for me. Dan and I never had a close encounter. When I passed him in the hall, I was so self conscious that I hid most of the time. I do remember one day when he said, "Hi!" to me. I didn't get over that thrill for weeks!
Later on, though, I had a face to face encounter with true love. It was marvelous to tell my true love I loved him with my own voice and to give him a Valentine with my own hands. No more mediator. I got to kiss my love with my own two lips.
In Leviticus, we hear a lot about sacrifices, all offered up by the priests on behalf of the people while they waited in the courtyard. The people would bring animals to sacrifice, but the priests would mediate for the people. The people stood afar from God, while the priests moved closer to God.
There was one exception, though, and we read about that today. It was the offering of well-being, the peace offering or the thanksgiving offering which people could only offer with their own hands. It is spoken of in chapter 7.
The word translated, "well-being," "peace" or "thanks" offering, is shelem in Hebrew. Its root is the more commonly known Hebrew word shalom. Shalom is the greeting in the middle eastern world which means welcome, peace, hospitality and implies acceptance and reconciliation.
This offering was offered to God with a person's own hands. The person also took part in the meal after the sacrifice which usually was allowed only for the priests.
Paul, in Ephesians, calls Jesus Christ "our peace," our shelem offering. He goes on to say, once we were far off, but because of Christ, we can now come near. In Romans 5:1, Paul also says,
"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace/shalom with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Many of us still rely on "priests"--other Christians--for our relationship with God. We have others pray for us, instead of coming to God with our own hands. We have others read scripture and interpret for us, instead of reading for ourselves and listening for God's still, small voice. We have others hold in their hands our hope of faith.
Maybe its time to grow up and leave the middle school of faith. Instead of having other people be our priests, we need to lift up to our Lord God our offering of belief in our shelem, our Savior Jesus Christ.
Christ has already become our peace. With our own hands, we need to cling to him and present him on our behalf to God. We do this as we pray in Jesus' name. We do this as we trust in Christ for our all.
I think it is better to experience the kiss and intimacy of Christ for ourselves than to go through others...
At least, that is my experience.