“You are holy because the Lord your God is holy.” I’ve been unable to let go of these words since reading them in Leviticus a few weeks ago. They followed me to my meeting with my spiritual director where I continue to struggle with the constant critical voices in the back of my head (though not as loud as they used to be, I’d like to be rid of them entirely). They pursued me through a meeting of the Mental Health Network Board of Directors where we reviewed the work we have done this year and set goals for the year to come. They whispered to me as I walked through sunrise on Venice beach. They continue to call to me as I am at CREDO, a clergy renewal retreat. “You are holy because the Lord your God is holy.”
Yesterday, I spent some time sitting in a field with colleagues as we shared bits of our journey. In the middle of our circle, I saw a tiny white flower growing amidst all the blades of grass. Some might rush to say that this flower is a weed and ought to be removed from the grassy field. I saw the simple beauty. That flower never questions its beauty. It never sought permission to grow and flourish and bring joy to those who took time to notice something so small, so perfect, so unexpected. If I could live as this flower does – never questioning my simple beauty, never seeking permission to grow and flourish and share joy – I might be able to see my life. You know, the life I have that is so small, so perfect, and so very unexpected. I am holy because the Lord my God is holy.
The trees here in Live Oaks, Florida are draped with a mossy looking vine. Both trees and vine are unusual to my northern eyes. Yet, they are beautiful and graceful in the breezes, lending a bit of a feel of ancient wisdom and witness to this place. These trees wear their mossy drapes without judgment. They do not ask if they are too fat or too thin. They do not wonder if they are keeping time with the wind. They do not ask to set their roots in the soil and bring grace to the landscape. If I could live as these trees do – not criticizing myself for being too fat, not trying to control the rhythyms of my life, not seeking permission to bring grace to my landscape – I might be able to embody wisdom and witness without hinderance. I am holy because the Lord my God is holy.
A crane on the ground is an awkward-looking creature. It’s legs and neck seem too long and thin for its body. But when it takes flight it transforms into a creature of wonder and awe. Flying through the morning mist, the white cranes call to one another. I hear a song of freedom and a celebration of wings. The crane does not question her value, her purpose, her worth; she just flies, and swims, and walks as need directs. If I could live as the cranes do – reveling in the awkwardness of my body, singing a song of freedom and celebration of wings, never questioning my value, my purpose, my worth and just flying, swimming, walking as need directs – I might be able soar through the mists as a creature of wonder and awe. I am holy because the Lord my God is holy.
Now I sit in the afternoon sun hoping, praying, I will hold onto this gift of holiness, never letting it slip through my fingers to puddle on the floor around my feet. I want to embody this gift always. If I can hold onto the wonders of holiness that God has given to all of us, I can live a life of beauty, wisdom, and wonder. I can silence those voices that still whisper that I am not good enough as I am when I am too tired to keep them quiet. I can honor this body I have been given even though my heart rate is too slow, my autonomic nervous system is out of whack, my diet is limited by factors beyond my control, my thyroid doesn’t function on its own, and my extremities turn blue in the cold. Even with all these things (and a few others) I am still “fearfully and wonderfully made” and have so many gifts in this body of mine. I am holy because the Lord my God is holy.
As we celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, may the re-formation of the Body of Christ continue. I will pray for you to know the gift of holiness that is ours. Pray for me, too. We are holy because the Lord our God is holy. May we all have the courage and strength to accept this amazing, loving, merciful gift we have been given!
If you are looking for sermon help, try here.
RCL – Year A – Reformation Sunday, Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost, October 29, 2017
Deuteronomy 34:1-12 with Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17 or
Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18 with Psalm 1 and
1 Thessalonians 2:1-8