Friday, January 13, 2006

Messy Holiness

During our morning staff meeting at Grace we’re slowly reading through the Bible, one chapter a day. We’re into Leviticus, with all the details on sacrifices, ordination, and the requirements for being set apart. The reading has got me thinking about holiness.

On hearing the word “holiness” what do you see/think of? For me it’s a white cloth or a robe. A very clean and very bright white robe. Years of Sunday school flannel-graphs have influenced the image, making my finial picture a stylised priest wearing the white robe in the very clean “temple setting” with everything looking very one-dimensional. My mental image is colliding with what Leviticus says. The OT methods of how to be cleansed and redeemed are messy -very messy. Nothing of what we’re reading is neat, clean or tidy. There’s blood being poured, sprinkled, and strewn. Blood thrown on the four sides of the altar and blood placed on Aaron and his sons. It’s a lot blood. The details of killing each animal with explanations on how to handle each section on the animal seems more like butcher training then my ideas of what a priest does. There is no way the priest clothes could have stayed clean, let alone Tide-with-bleach-white.

Each morning as we read it hits me: the cost of holiness is messy


Amy said...

beautiful thoughts, Liz! thanks for sharing this.

"The cost of holiness is messy." This is something I need to chew on!

Combs said...

you know, if I could be as poinent as you are in as many words I might actually consider myself a writer. Great thoughts. I'm right there with you. I think we as christans get caught in a trap of thinking that holiness is this brillent shinning perfection, which in the end it may be, but to get there we have to wade through a river of blood. It's not clean being a christan, sometimes it doesn't even seem black and white. I'm a little sad though, because whenever I think of holiness, true holiness, I never think of myself. Great thoughts Elizabeth.

Jo said...

"the cost of holiness is messy"--very true liz. could we not also say that the pursuit of holiness is also messy? i mean, it means digging up the darkest corners of our heart, and perhaps confession, and it means adopting new ways of being in the world, new ways of acting, that are uncomfortable.

i like thinking about it as 'messyness' simply because God is messy, and we are fully human, and even as redeemed, 'holy' humans we are STILL "messy" this side of heaven.
that probably didn't make sense.

Jo said...

when i say that "God is messy" i just mean that he works in ways that we would least expect--like royalty in a manger....etc.

MELISSA m.s. nickerson said...

True indeed. I always thought it interesting, too, that God instructed the use of blood for cleansing, but that the blood of Jesus makes us whiter than snow. Quite the imagery!