It was a lovely new-build my in-laws moved into when my husband was a little boy. The council tip, which had been outside the historic market town of Nantwich, Cheshire, was supposed to be closed and filled in as the Whitehouse Lane estate took shape. But local politics moved slower than the builders, so the smell and the flies still filled the air while people took up residence in their beautiful shiny homes. It took the corporate action of the residents to refuse to pay their rates (council taxes) before the tip was finally filled in, and the Barony was transformed into the lovely playing area and sports ground it is today.
While tips are outside the town, they do what they are supposed to do – take care of the rubbish. But nobody wants to live next door to one!
In Exodus 29:10-14, at the ceremony of consecrating Aaron and his sons to the priesthood, the first offering was the bull. The candidates first laid their hands on its head, transferring their own guilt onto the beast, before it was slaughtered. It’s blood and some organs were burnt on the altar, but the majority was taken outside the camp and disposed of there. The sin and disgrace of Aaron and sons were thus taken away, leaving them free to minister.
And outside the city, where the rubbish was dumped, Jesus was crucified on a cross. What flies and smells must have pestered around his head while his outstretched arms, cruelly nailed back, were unable to bat or swat them away. Just one more misery added to the physical and spiritual torture he endured there. Outside the town, where my sin and guilt was transferred onto him, and all my rubbish was dealt with, once and for all.
He went through all that so that I could be free to minister. Just like Aaron and sons. Not necessarily as a priest, but in whatever role he chooses to equip and call me for. So why do I wallow in guilt? And why do I hold back on what he calls me to do? And why do I think I am unworthy? Would I waste the pain and suffering he went through because I am reluctant to press forward? Our rubbish has been dealt with. Let’s act like it.