Day 28--Holy, Holy, Holy--"Direct Communion" Lev 5-7 (and a gender note)
January 28, 2021, 8:05 AM

Day 28 Leviticus 5 – 7

“Direct Communion”

Holiness, holiness, everything is about holiness.

The formula is simple: God is holy. God is purely, uber, ultra, completely holy. We are not. We are really, REALLY not holy. But God is gracious and loving enough to help us find a pathway to be with him, to atone (to be “at one,” or in communion, with God) for our sins. And our sins range from truly terrible things we may have done, to the thoughtless ways that we sort of casually break covenant with God, break relationship with God’s people, the way we choose death over life, so to speak.

Now I’m saying ‘us’ and ‘we’ even though we don’t specifically fit into this picture in the book of Leviticus. I’m not an Israelite. I’m not wandering in the desert for 40 years trying to find my homeland. I have a lovely, strong church where I can go every day without bringing a single bull or turtledove for an offering, for which I am grateful!!

But as I read the book of Leviticus, it gives me not only the history of how God demanded purity of his people in order to be in the presence of his powerful and consuming holiness, but it reminds me of how casual I can be about my own sins. Reading Leviticus reminds me to be mindful (I probably overuse that word—sorry!) of my own impurity and uncleanness. But what can I do about it?

What I can do is to be honest with God and his people/MY people. I can offer up my pride in order to promote healing and reconciliation. I can humble myself, speak words out loud that make me hear again my offenses—and they are many! I can ask for forgiveness, and miraculously, God grants me forgiveness. Psalm 103 says “As far as east is from west, so I have removed their transgressions from them,” and I cling to that verse after confessing, after offering, after giving up my pride.

In my case, the powerful sacramental rite of Reconciliation (it used to be called confession, but reconciliation is much more accurate) has always been a consolation for me. A terrifying one at times, but a true consolation because I believe that God does forgive my sins. I recommend to each of you if you have not experienced it. This is a place where God’s representative—me, in this case—hears the sins of God’s people and offers God’s forgiveness. Reconciliation with God has far-reaching influence because it provides healing in our hearts, and that healing can be a way we re-connect with each other, and of course, with God.

Here is a big difference between the book of Leviticus and our understanding of sin today—the Israelites were offering something outside themselves, something valuable, something alive that had to die, but they did not have to emotionally/spiritually have to deal with sin at the ‘heart level’ where you and I experience it today. The Israelites could not avoid having to make these offerings for sin and guilt because their neighbors and family were also keeping track for them. That could lead to shaming or shunning.

You and I can carry around our backpack or steamer truck or boatload of sin as long as we want, and God does not require us to tell anyone, or to do anything. In fact, our culture would tell us that sin is an archaic word that doesn’t fit into our modern culture. As long as it feels good, the saying goes. Carrying around that baggage doesn’t usually feel good, doesn’t usually lead to a holier life which is also our goal, just like the Israelites. But we should do something.  We should remember that the “sin baggage” we carry affects our relationships, weighs us down and prevents us from being truly honest with God and with each other.  Remember that we, too, are called to be a holy people of God: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9

Sin dims or even darkens that light in our lives. We too are called to be in the presence of the Holy. We too are called to atonement, or “at-one-ment” with God through our offering of our full selves, our praises and our thanks, our honesty and our repentance. What can we offer God today in order to be at one with Him?

Be blessed, and be a blessing to others,

ML

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Gender pronoun note—this has been bugging me for awhile:

Yes, I will refer to God as ‘he’ and ‘him’. That does not mean in any way that I think God is purely masculine, but it is the easiest and most familiar way for me to write about GodßSee what I did there? I did not use a pronoun, just put God’s name in there instead! But it doesn’t always work to do that in writing about God, so I will use pronouns to refer to God, knowing always that “Male and female, God made them in God’s own image.” There is biblical precedent for use of masculine pronouns, and obviously Jesus literally was a man, but to be made in God’s image actually transcends gender. The Holy Spirit is nebulous, and there are arguments that there is a feminine quality or reference to the femaleness of the Spirit. Some say that the spirit of Wisdom in the book of Proverbs, who is female and referred to as Sophia (wisdom), is the Holy Spirit, but we don’t think that’s accurate.

Just know that I am mindful of these issues and I am trying to be careful, but I will also use what is familiar and less jarring in writing this blog. I’m proud to be a woman, absolutely made in God’s own image, as are all women AND men. I trust that we can wrestle with these issues in our own hearts.

 

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