Wednesday, March 30, 2011


With the season of Lent/Easter/Passover upon us, I've been doing some reading and thinking on the subject of chametz and thinking that I'm glad I'm not morally obligated to rid my home of chametz in preparation for the coming holiday because I would fail. As the wife of a Hebrew Bible prof, I have tremendous respect for the Jewish faith and admire the discipline the Jewish lifestyle requires, something often missing in the "easy-grace" tendencies among Christians. In commemoration of the Passover, the more observant Jewish people rid their homes of any grains that are not kosher specifically for Passover, grains that are fine to have in their homes any other time of year but which represent a ritual impurity during Passover. These grains might have miniscule amounts of natural leavening in them, which makes them not permissible to eat or to own. The reason for this is that God commanded Moses to tell the people to clean their homes thoroughly and to prepare unleavened bread for their Exodus from Egypt, so all grains consumed or owned during this Paschal feast must be unleavened. The cleaning and removal of chametz is actually a big inspiration for the tradition of spring cleaning, a chance for a fresh start.

My house is FULL of chametz! I have about 75lbs of grain and several containers of flour, pasta, and oats. I have small children who tend to wander a bit with their snacks, and they have left crumbs of everything in little nooks and crannies throughout the lower level. They read books at the table, and leave crumbs in them. The Jedis' backpacks often have crumbs from their leftover school snacks, crumbs which come flying out when a sweatshirt or folder is removed from the bag. The diaper bag is the same. My car is a cruddy mess of snack crumbs and french fries as well. This is pretty much the status quo, sadly.

However, some days are much worse. Take yesterday, for example. M-girl was supposed to be watching Caillou on the computer, the Jedis were playing Wii, and Dr.O' and I were getting a few minutes to talk in our room nearby. M-girl has been pretty good about leaving my bin of wheat alone, but not yesterday! She dumped several cups of wheat berries on the floor and into the computer armoire. It did not appear to have gone into any of the electronic equipment, but it made a HUGE mess! I still see bits of wheat on the floor, and I think it'll take several vacuumings. My house is sprinkled with a perpetual layer of barely visible chametz!

This gets me thinking about how the Old Testament laws, including those about chametz, were to point people to God and His holiness and to demonstrate how people can never be sinless or attain holiness on their own. God's people had to do their best with God's help and to trust that He would be faithful to His promises.

Jesus came and said that following the 10 Commandments was not enough. He said that lusting was the same sin as adultery, that hate was the same sin as murder, and that our thoughts were the seeds for these sins. But He also bridged this gap between our sinful selves and our Heavenly Father. There is spiritual chametz, clutter, and uncleanness in my life, visible and less visible. Some of it is stuff that isn't always necessarily sinful, but it also doesn't bring me closer to God or help me to serve others. I have to do what I can with the Holy Spirit's help to remove it and become more like my Lord because I owe Him an obedient heart, but I can also live in the joyful hope that these weaknesses, imperfections, and sins are covered by the blood of my Savior.

In the meantime, though, I can't help but mutter "chametz!" everytime a mess happens in my house, like a toddler playing Montessori sensory table with my wheat bin, a school-age kid spilling cereal, or my wheat grinder filter getting clogged and sending flour all over my kitchen!

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