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OFFERING SCRIPTURE: He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. For Moses said, ‘HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER’; and, ‘HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER, IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH’; but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),’ you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that” (Mark 7:9-13). The Hebrew word often translated “offering” is קָרְבָּן (pronounced: korban). It is a fascinating word, full of rich meaning. There are many words in Hebrew with this root קרב (karav). For example, the verb “to offer” or “to sacrifice” is להקריב (pronounced: lehakriv), while the verb to “draw near” or to “come close” is להתקרב (pronounced: lehitkarev). One can imagine that an “offering” is a symbolic way of “coming closer”. When a family connection is described in Hebrew, we use the phrase – קרוב-משפחה (krov mishpaha), which literally means “close family”. Considering the Hebrew meaning, an “offering” קָרְבָּן (korban) should be thought of as something people use to get near towards God. Most Eastern cultures still preserve an interesting ancient idea that one cannot go to someone else’s house for fellowship empty-handed. One must have something to offer in their hand in order to enter into the house of a neighbor or relative. In the same Eastern tradition preserves something else that is very beautiful. Not only the guest cannot come empty-handed, but the host cannot allow him or herto leave empty-handed either! The enterprise of fellowship turns out to be a wonderful exchange of, usually culinary, gifts. PRAYER: Call out to us, Mighty God, and we will come, draw us near to yourself, Oh, LORD, and we will approach! How beautiful are your courts, Oh, LORD, your gates, your dwelling places. We desire closeness to you, LORD when we come with sacrifices of our praise and thanksgiving. LORD, God of Israel, we offer our lives as living sacrifices on youraltar of mercy and pray that our gifts find favor in your eyes. When we draw close to you, Oh, King, draw close to us and welcome us into your sweet presence. We come with gifts. May we find favor in your eyes so that we too will not depart empty-handed.

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