Deuteronomy 16:1-8 – “Gimme Some Graaaaavay!”: Those Perfect Family Moments That Make Us Family

Posted: February 10, 2017 in 05-Deuteronomy
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Deuteronomy 16:1-8

Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread


There are those family moments etched in time that live in our collective family memories forever. These moments help us remember the good times that we have as families. Even if things are different now and even if relationships between family members are strained, we can flash back to those perfect family moments when everything was perfect for just that one moment. Those moments that may never pass this way again but we can reflect on those perfect moments and feel the warmth that is family when it is at its best.


I remember from the movie, Deep Impact, the characters played by Maximillian Shell and Tea Leoni, were father and daughter, Jason Lerner and Jenny Lerner. Jenny Lerner is deeply saddened as an adult about the divorce and remarriage of her father. She is angry at her father to the point of not wanting to have a relationship with him anymore. However, as the movie approaches its end, Jason brings Jenny pictures of a perfect family moment at the family beach house from when Jenny was five years old (some thirty years ago now). When he gives Jenny the pictures she acts as if she does not remember. As the meteor is about to hit the earth, she gives up her chance to get out danger’s way to go be with her dad who is at the beach house just waiting on the shore for the tidal wave that will kill him after the meteor impacts in the North Atlantic. Jenny races to him. They talk for a while. Forgiveness comes. Jenny tells her dad that she lied earlier when they met in the city telling him that she did not remember the day those pictures were made. She said then that she remembered everything about that day. She said it was the perfect day. It was the high point of her family memories.


That’s what family is all about. It is a collection of memories that sustain us. It is for most of us those collection of shared memories that make us a family. Some of my favorite family memories are memories that I have shared with my daughters since the breakup of my second marriage. Because they were born into the rough parts of my first marriage to their birth mother and there are no real great memories with my girls during the time I was married to my second wife. The best memories that I have with my girls have been since 2004. These are the memories that make us Daddy and his girls. Just mention the phrases “Gimme some graaaaaaavy!” or “In the moooooorning!” to me and my daughters and it will evoke that one perfect night at my parents/their grandparents dinner table where we were at our collective witty best. To remember the specific details of it are impossible but I just remember that it was the funniest night of my life. Everything that was said was witty or sarcastic or sarcastically witty. Every comment kind of built and built on the funny-ness of the evening. We laughed so much that night that we had tears in our eyes and sore diaphragms from laughing so heartily. You know those laughs where you can’t you almost can breathe. Those continuous laughing fits where you end up coughing because you have laughed so hard and so long. That was the perfect night for me and my girls as family. We have had other great nights together. We have even had a road trips to Clemson bowl games together and were so much fun but there is no more perfect moment than that night around the dinner table at Papa and Nana’s house. They were clueless about why we were all just rolling in the floor laughing. The witty comments were just flying over their head and we were zinging them one right after another. It was the perfect night. It sustains me now as that greatest family moment that brings a smile to your face when you think of that night. Our lives have changed since then. I have remarried. Meghan has married and had a child. Taylor is in a long-term relationship and my and Taylor’s relationship has been strained almost to the breaking point of late. However, one thing that can draw us together and bring smiles to our faces is that one perfect night as “me and my girls.” We will never pass that way again. Those perfect moments in time. We must never forget those perfect family moments. That is what makes us family. That wonderful shared experiences that are etched in our memory. We must keep those memories because…that’s what makes us family.


The remembrances that we have as families is what I thought of this morning when I read through Deuteronomy 16:1-8 about the command to celebrate Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread. I will tie family memories together with this Passover passage after we read through it, now:


16 Observe the month of Aviv and celebrate the Passover of the Lord your God, because in the month of Aviv he brought you out of Egypt by night. 2 Sacrifice as the Passover to the Lord your God an animal from your flock or herd at the place the Lord will choose as a dwelling for his Name. 3 Do not eat it with bread made with yeast, but for seven days eat unleavened bread, the bread of affliction, because you left Egypt in haste—so that all the days of your life you may remember the time of your departure from Egypt. 4 Let no yeast be found in your possession in all your land for seven days. Do not let any of the meat you sacrifice on the evening of the first day remain until morning.


5 You must not sacrifice the Passover in any town the Lord your God gives you 6 except in the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name. There you must sacrifice the Passover in the evening, when the sun goes down, on the anniversary[a] of your departure from Egypt. 7 Roast it and eat it at the place the Lord your God will choose. Then in the morning return to your tents. 8 For six days eat unleavened bread and on the seventh day hold an assembly to the Lord your God and do no work.


The Passover and Festival of Unleavened Bread were memory markers for the Israelites. They were family memories. They were memories of shared experience. The festivals were to remind them that they had something in common. They were family. They were God’s chosen family, Israel. The festivals were to remind them of what they had been through together. The festivals were most especially to remind them of all the great things that God had done for them. This festival was to remind them that God had delivered them from their bondage in Egypt, had done great things for them during their wilderness journey that they did not truly deserve, and had delivered them to the Promised Land. These festivals are remembrances of what God has done for His nation. It is remembrance of what them the nation of Israel. As Meghan, Taylor and I have these shared memories of those perfect family moments that make us a unique little family unit, so, too, were these festivals a way for Israel to remember the uniqueness of their position of being God’s chosen people. Meghan and Taylor did not choose to be my daughters, that was God’s plan. They did not earn their way into my heart. They birth into my life was all that it took to be family. Then, our shared experiences of those perfect family moments make us family.


Then, that concept of family what it takes to be family makes me think of my step-daughter, Michelle, who I no longer really think of as step-daughter. She is my daughter. She has grafted her way into my heart not because of things she has done to earn it. I just love her and though she is an adult I have “adopted” her into my family. Michelle and I have these shared moments now that make us family. Those “have to have some cake at 11pm” moments. Those “team up against her mom (my wife)” moments. Those Carolina vs. Clemson moments. Those “mutually gassy” moments that drive her mom crazy moments. All of those moments make her my daughter too.


When we reflect back on these things, those perfect family moments is what warms us and gets us through in that we know we have family when we have nothing else. That’s why we celebrate those moments. That’s why God wanted His people to remember through these festivals – remember what God has done for them even though they did not necessarily deserve it or earn it. They are His family and He will provide for them and care for them. And they will then celebrate His glory for what He has done.


The festivals and the memories that they conjure up remind us too what God has done for us through Jesus Christ. He rescued us from our sin just as God rescued Israel from their slavery in Egypt. Jesus has made us a part of a family that we did nothing to earn to be in. We are just there because we were birthed into His grace. We did not earn it, but we were made a part of the family anyway. We have seen what Christ has done through the Holy Spirit in our lives. He has performed great miracles in our lives by making us a part of His family. Sometimes, we just have to sit down and remember what Jesus has done for us. He has adopted us into His family. We have great memories of what He has done and we must celebrate that from time to time. We must remember lest we get boastful and proud that it was the mighty work of God and His own providence that we are saved. We must remember what our life was like before in our own “Egypts” and what our life is like now in the Promised Land of Christ. We must remember and celebrate being part of God’s chosen family, the new Israel, his church. That makes us a unique family the world over. All those who have accepted Christ as their Savior are part of this unique family that has this shared experience. No matter if you are from Los Angeles or from Lagos, Nigeria, from Lyman or Sierra Leone, we are family because of the shared experience of having Christ as our Savior.


Just like there are things that make us families on earth, those perfect family moments that are etched in our memory that we celebrate and remember, we celebrate today that you and I no matter where you are or where I am, we are family in Christ. We have shared experience that we can share even if we have never met. We celebrate what Christ has done. We have those perfect Christ’s family moments.


Amen and Amen.

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