Being Holy

Being Holy is not a goal, but a process, founded upon the unconditional and undying love we share with each other and with God. Being Holy is a gift freely given to all of us, together. It is not a prize for good behavior presented only to a select few.

Labyrinth at Amiens Cathedral
The Labyrinth Floor of Amiens Cathedral

Sermon: “Being Holy”

Delivered at ARK Community Church, Dalton MA
13th Sunday after Pentecost: September 7, 2014.

Scripture readings:

Leviticus 19:2-18 (NRSV)
Romans 12:1-2,9-18,21 (NRSV)
Matthew 22:36-40 (NRSV)

Podcast:

Please join me in prayer…

Lord, let it be your voice that speaks through my mouth, and let our hearts be open and receptive to the Word you have for us here, today. Amen.

One afternoon, a few years ago, a good friend of mine was crossing the street on a marked crosswalk at a stoplight, when a well-dressed man in his brand new white Cadillac SUV zoomed through the red light without stopping as he made a right hand turn.  He hit my friend, knocking him to the ground and leaving him dazed.  The driver stopped, rolled down his window, cussed my friend out for getting in the way, and roared off, never to be seen again.

We could use this incident to launch into a discussion about social justice, highlighting how those with power and position are often arrogant and believe their position entitles them to special privileges and consideration. We could then contrast this with my friend’s situation: a man of great talent and a good heart, but who, through no fault of his own, has long lived in the margins of our economy. Then asking whether he is any less deserving of consideration or respect than the driver?

But Jesus teaches us to be more concerned with our own hearts than with the hearts of others, even the hearts of those who seem to be self centered, wealthy and reeking of a sense of entitlement. So let’s look instead at how this situation is illuminated by this morning’s readings.

Continue reading “Being Holy”

Be Holy (Redux)

sistine-chapel-ceiling-creation-of-adam-1510I’ve had a few thoughts since my recent post on Leviticus 19 and “Being Holy” on the nature of Holiness…

First, as I discussed in that post, “Being Holy” is a process.  A process implies that changes are happening as a result of that process.  So, when God says “You shall be Holy for I am Holy.”  … God is changed by the practice of being Holy, just as we will be changed.

This makes sense from a second point of view, which is that Holiness, based on the commands in Leviticus 19, is about having healthy relationships.  In other words, being Holy requires relationship.  This makes perfect sense to Christians, since the whole point of Christ walking here on earth as one of us was to bring each and every one of us into closer relationship with God.  Christ, after all, was prophesied as being “Emmanuel” – “God with Us” (Matthew 1:23).

Third, relationship is not a one way street.  Relationships change both parties.  If not, it would be a one way interaction, such as a child might have with a doll – such a relationship might change us, but it sure doesn’t change the doll!  Such is not a full relationship, but only a partial or truncated one.

So, when God says “You shall be Holy for I am Holy” in Leviticus 19:2.  It means Holiness is a two way thing.  We are Holy because we are in relationship with God – You shall be Holy for I am Holy” – and that Holy relationship changes the both of us for the better.

Holiness and relationship both require that God is vulnerable to us, just as we are vulnerable to God – and what could be a greater demonstration of this than Jesus’ death on the cross?  Or Jesus as a babe, completely dependent upon his parents for sustenance and support?  It would seem, then, that being vulnerable isn’t such a bad thing, it leaves our hearts open for change, and deeper and more meaningful relationships with others.

The Bible asks us to be open to God and God’s movement within our spirits.  That movement is a two way street, and that is what is at the heart of being Holy.

Be Holy!

Copyright (c) 2014, Allen Vander Meulen III, all rights reserved.  I’m happy to share my writings with you, as long as you are not seeking (or gaining) financial benefit for doing so, and as long as proper credit for my authorship is given (e.g., via a credit that gives my full name and/or provides a link back to this site).

Be Holy

Focal text: Leviticus 19

UnknownA close friend of mine once lived in a town that was rapidly becoming a mecca for the affluent in his part of the country, ignoring it’s heritage as a community that put significant effort into ministering to those in need.

One afternoon, my friend was crossing the street in a marked crosswalk at a stoplight, when a well-dressed man in his brand new white Cadillac SUV zoomed through the red light as he made a right hand turn.  As this driver did so, he hit my friend with his vehicle, knocking him to the ground and leaving him dazed.  At that point, the driver stopped, rolled down his window, cussed my friend out for getting in the way, then roared off.  (Unfortunately, the driver got away with it; as at that moment my friend was in no condition to read, let alone remember, a license plate number.)

We could say a lot about the injustice of this, highlighting how those with power and position are often arrogant and self-serving, thinking their position and wealth grants them special privileges and consideration; and then contrasting that with the situation of my friend, a man of great talent and a good heart, but who lives on the margins of our economy.

But let’s not go there today; there’s enough of that floating around.  Instead, we’ll focus on how this situation is illuminated by the text from Leviticus 19 that is part of the lectionary readings for this coming Sunday.

Continue reading “Be Holy”