Seasonal Work – 1 Chronicles 26 & 27, Luke 13
The day after Thanksgiving. For many of us, this means the pots and pans are once again clean, the fine china has been returned to the cupboard, and if we’re lucky, there are enough leftovers to save us from meal prep for the next couple of days. Some may have gotten up early in search of a deal; or others, like me, were content to do their shopping online sitting next to the warmth of a crackling fireplace. After the bustling activity of yesterday, it’s time to rest and recover.
It. Is. Just. Getting. Started.
Over the course of the next several weeks, we will be caught in a whirlwind of decorating, baking, and gift wrapping as we prepare for Christmas. We will stay up late and get up early. We will forget the sugar cookies for the 2nd Grade Christmas party. So we’ll rush to the store, pay three times what it would have cost to make them ourselves and show up just in time to hand them over. And if we’re not careful, we’ll find ourselves in the exact same position Martha did in Luke 10: “distracted with much serving.”
As I read through today’s portion in 1 Chronicles 26 and 27, I couldn’t help but think about this danger. Unlike others parts of the book of 1 Chronicles, these chapters read just like they sound: they are chronicles, listings of the different divisions of service within David’s kingdom. The lists actually start in chapter 23 and record the names of people who held jobs as musicians and gatekeepers and treasury officials and military leaders. They finally culminate in chapter 27 with a list of the leaders of the tribes of Israel.
I found myself exhausted just from reading it.
But reading of these lists of jobs also reminded me of the work that goes into the holidays—all the organization and preparation and list making. It reminded me how easily we get invested in the work itself and miss the bigger picture. Because there was a bigger picture behind these jobs—there was a purpose behind these responsibilities. And, we find it in the very next chapter.
In 1 Chronicles 28, David calls together all the officials and officers of the military and heads of the tribes, and he tells them about the plans to build the Temple. In the coming years, they will each be part of this great work under the leadership of his son Solomon. But then he gives them this commission:
Now therefore in the sight of all Israel, the assembly of the LORD, and in the hearing of our God, observe and seek out all the commandments of the LORD your God, that you may possess this good land and leave it for an inheritance to your children after you forever.
This was the bigger goal; they were possessing the land and leaving an inheritance for their children. They were building a kingdom. And yet, all the organization, all the instructions, all the planning, all the work was dependent on something else: observing and seeking out all the commands of the LORD.
The only way their work would be effective was if it was first based on pursuing the knowledge of God Himself.
This is the only way our work will be effective as well. In the midst of the holiday busyness, while we are struggling to create memories for our children, while we are working to inspire them with their heritage as sons and daughters of God, while we are attempting to hallow these weeks in celebration of the One who first hallowed them with His presence, we do it by cherishing the commandments of the LORD. We do it by seeking Him first.
And if we do, the Kingdom will flourish.
In Luke 13, also in today’s Bible reading, Jesus teaches something remarkable about His Kingdom. He says that it “is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”
What started out small grew into a mighty tree. So too, through the work of the holidays, we are sowing seeds. A bit of Scripture, a song that magnifies His greatness, a prayer whispered in the midst of the chaos—each of these cause our hearts to take root in the soil of His nature, and bit by bit, year by year, the tree of faith grows. Until one day, after years of Christmas seasons, we look around us and we see the Kingdom. We see it in the hearts of our children and our grandchildren and if we’re so blessed, our great-grandchildren. We see it in the hearts of those who have learned “to seek out all the commandments of the LORD” because they watched us do it first. Even in the busyness.
Hannah Anderson lives with her husband, Nathan, and their three young children in the haunting Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. As a pastor’s wife in a rural setting, no two days are ever the same which suits her short-attention span perfectly. Hannah is passionate about helping women discover their God-given identity as His image bearers and is the author of Made for More: An Invitation to Live in God’s Image (Moody, 2014). She also contributes to a variety of Christian publications, and you can find her on her blog, SometimesALight.com, and on Twitter @sometimesalight.