Look, chances are good that many are a bit confused by all the details and specifics listed in these ancient offerings and sacrfices that we see in today's reading. I get that, I feel that, and yet as I wrestle with an approprate response of my modern mind when faced with trying to pull from an ancient culture I started to think of my own tribe.
In my family we have traditions and structures that have been passed down through the years.
We have repeated stories, sayings, rituals and more that make us feel connected, loved, united. I'll spare you most of them but I promise they have become sacred for us. I'll mention one of our favorites.
We play a game called "Hide the Tiger." It involves a cheap formed plastic tiger figurine that we likely bought at a garage sale or got out of a vending machine at the dollar store decades ago. It's the sort of toy that you'd find in your grandparent's junk drawer. There is nothing special about the tiger itself, his tail broke off years ago.
All of us (except the hider) would gather in a very specific place, (the location changed as we changed homes over the years) there are details about the amount of time for those in the waiting area and the amount of time the hider has to hide the tiger.
Meanwhile, the hider, takes the tiger and hides it somewhere in the home. But, there are rules that the hider must learn and obey.
a. the hider may hide the tiger anywhere in the home with the following stipulations
b. some portion of the tiger must be visable from the seekers perch (usually the livingroom couch) during the early years when the tiger still had a tail it was popular to bury the tiger in a potted plant with just the tail exposed!
c. once the tiger is hidden the hider must make a specific call aloud to the seekers, which is their cue to race to the seekers perch, the call is very specific, every hider must memorize it, and yell it at the top of their lungs when it's time, the call goes like this:
Cooooo...lew...coo...cooo...coo...coo...coo...coooooooooo! Coooooo...lew...coo...coo...coo...cooo...coo coooooo.
(Perhaps you remember SCTV? The Great White North, eh...hoser?)
Anyway, you get the idea. Then everyone races to the couch and once your butt was planted on the couch you could start looking for the tiger. The first to shout out "I spy the TIGER!" has ten seconds to get off of the perch and retrive the tiger. If they succeeed they become the new hider and the game repeats.
Just a fun family game. It was silly, enjoyable, but it was so much more at the same time.
Hide the tiger has become mythical in our family, meaning it's a truth that can't be explained in a bianary (black and white, 1 or 0, right or wrong) sort of way, hide the tiger is more than a game for us, it's a story that has shaped our own story. The details helped to mold us and shape us as we did life together. It taught us how to deal with disagreements (there have been many.) It tied us to our heritage, I used to sit up late nights with my Uncle Mitch watching SCTV which is where the call comes from. (An example) Hide the tiger taught our kids to learn things like structure, order, direction, focus, patience, and doing life in a way that respects and loves being together. Plus, it gave us identity, while it draws from many traditions (SCTV, Hide and Seek, I Spy) hide the tiger feels like its ours. Over time we learned to share it with others.
For years we ran an in-home daycare. Hide the tiger became a regular game.
Slumber parties, birthday parties, holidays, really anything became an excuse for our kids to invite their own friends to play with our tribe. Neighbor kids would be shouting: Cooo...lew...coo...coo...cooo...coo...coo...coo. None of them were familiar with Bob and Doug Mackenzie, but the unity was there, the fun was there, the order was there, and we loved it. We needed it and were blessed by it, and then sharing it became natural.
Plus, my guess is that those of you who are parents have recognized another bit of value that hide the tiger provides our family. It gives the kids something, something that they can love and enjoy while at the same time keeps a measure of order, purpose, and direction. When you have four young kids with friends and extended family visiting keeping things from spiraling out of control without being a jerk becomes a challenge--hide the tiger helps!
Well, today I wonder if some of these strange things we see in Leviticus and the early history of the Hebrews might be similar. They're a family. They're a tribe. They're becoming a nation.
But, for hundreds of years they lived under the Egyptians. They had no, structure, no deep history to draw from, they likely needed a sense of togetherness, things that would teach them to do life together before they were ready to be a light unto the world.
They needed structures, traditions, ways to be themselves rather than the structure and traditions of slavery that they came from.
The tiger isn't nearly as important as the things it taught us. Joy, love, order, sacrfice, dealing with conflict, sucess, failures, sharing, teaching, fun, and more. What do you think? Keep reading.