Dave Brisbin | 4.15.18
Between Easter and Pentecost, or more specifically, between Pesach/Passover and Shavu’ot, stretches a period of fifty days called in Hebrew sefirat ha-omer—the Counting of the Omer. Jews were told to make a grain offering on the second day of Pesach, then count each day for seven Sabbaths, add one day, and make another grain offering. Starting as celebrations of the barley and wheat harvests, Pesach and Shavu’ot respectively grew into celebrations of the physical liberation of the people from Egypt and their spiritual liberation from slave mentality at the giving of the Law. Hebrews made a distinction between the physical liberation first and the spiritual liberation that naturally followed a people living in intimate relationship with God. The counting of the omer is their structure for an interior preparation for spiritual deliverance. Jesus makes the same distinction to Nicodemus—that he must be born again in spirit before he can see God’s kingdom. 

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And though Nicodemus cannot understand such language at John 3, by John 19 he has broken through to the boldness and freedom that Jesus’ followers will also experience on Shavu’ot, Pentecost fifty days later. For us, whether we call this being born again or baptism of the spirit, we need to understand that such spiritual empowering is not passively bestowed, but actively unveiled—we must become ready to see. We are in the liturgical middle of the counting right now, and we need to find our own way to count the omer, to live as if kingdom is already present before we can become people who can see that it actually is.

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