Preparing a table before us: Dancing in the desert

When we take people to Israel, we always start in the desert. This is where God invited Israel

into a covenant. And how were they to worship him? By making sacrifices, eating in his

presence and singing his praises. I have chosen on my trips to have a real slaughter of a sheep

or goat. Participants watch the whole ordeal, from slitting the throat to preparing for the meal.

A few hours later we enjoy a feast, spend the afternoon telling stories, and letting the Bedouin

teach us some songs and dances. It feels like an ancient Passover.


The desert experience has mixed emotions because the slaughter stirs gut wrenching

sympathy, while the feeling of community at play is almost magical. Initially it seems ironic to

enjoy a meal at the expense of an innocent animal whose life is taken before our eyes. The

slaughter is still in mind as we gather in the tent. Yet, most food in the ancient world was put to

death (plant or animal) so that people could live. We dance because we are alive and together –

and because the Lamb of God gave up his life to make it all possible.

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