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When you have come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, and you possess it, and settle in it, you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his name. You shall go to the priest who is in office at that time, and say to him, “Today I declare to the Lord your God that I have come into the land that the Lord swore to our ancestors to give us.” When the priest takes the basket from your hand and sets it down before the altar of the Lord your God, you shall make this response before the Lord your God: “A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous. When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labor on us, we cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors; the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. The Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders; and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. 10 So now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground that you, O Lord, have given me.” You shall set it down before the Lord your God and bow down before the Lord your God. 11 Then you, together with the Levites and the aliens who reside among you, shall celebrate with all the bounty that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house. -Deuteronomy 26:1-11

At the end of this passage, Moses tells the people to rejoice and celebrate all the good things God has given the Israelites and their families.  He tells them to gather with their families, along with the Levites and the foreigners.  Among the ancient Hebrews, the Levites were the hoity toity… the ruling class of temple priests.  And the foreigners were just that… foreign to the land, like the Hebrew people had been.  They were the people who lived in the margins of society, the vulnerable, and the people without support systems. 

          We need to expand our definition of who’s in our family.  When we consider our lives, the good and the bad, the bitter and the sweet, we are reminded that God didn’t intend for the blessings he gave us to stop with our immediate and biological families.  The blessings we get are to be given away, shared, and distributed among many.  We’ve all tasted what it’s like when we do something nice for someone else like a neighbor recovering from surgery, a business colleague in need or a young family who just had another child.  It’s a beautiful thing and you feel good!  In fact, most times, the person who shares a blessing is more blessed than the person on the receiving end.

          As we journey through life, may we rethink our definition of family.  Let’s train our hearts and minds to think of family as all people, not simply relatives.

Love, Tammy