[reprinted from July 9, 2012]
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In Christ, God has given us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly world. That is, in Christ, he chose us before the world was made so that we would be his holy people—people without blame before him. Because of his love, God had already decided to make us his own children through Jesus Christ. That was what he wanted and what pleased him, and it brings praise to God because of his wonderful grace. God gave that grace to us freely, in Christ, the One he loves. In Christ we are set free by the blood of his death, and so we have forgiveness of sins. How rich is God’s grace, which he has given to us so fully and freely. Ephesians 1:3-8 (CEV)
Lectionary texts: 2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12-19, Psalm 24, Ephesians 1:3-14, Mark 6:14-29
I hope that we will take time to read these passages this week. They aren’t easy passages to read.
2 Samuel 6 is about David bringing the ark back to Jerusalem. The part of the passage that I often refer is David worshiping God with all his heart and not concerned whether someone (like his wife!) thinks he isn’t behaving “kingly” enough. I love the reminder that my worship of God isn’t about me. But the lectionary text people are like me and leave out the part about Uzzah dying because he reached out to steady the ark when the ox stumbled. Heartfelt worship of God will bring me closer to God. Coming close to the Holy One can be dangerous.
Psalm 24 “Who is able to to stand in God’s Holy Place?” The psalmist writes like he knows how dangerous it is to come close to God. He verbalizes that he has seen the holiness, the mightiness of God. He has a ‘holy fear’ of God. The psalmist knows who he is next to God.
Mark 6 passage tells me about the beheading of John the Baptist. It would seem on the surface that evil ‘wins’. Nothing redeeming can be said about King Herod and the perverted Herodias and her daughter. They get what they want – the death of John. But you and I both know that they do not really win. God has the final word in this story. God promised that vengeance would belong to Him (Isaiah 34:8 to name just one).
And so all these passages strike a chord, a true chord, of holy fear inside me. I am reminded of the power and justness of my LORD. I am reminded that God does not lower His standard, His holiness. I cannot stand in His Holy Place in myself. I am too un-holy. I am a sinner.
But my Father had a plan from the beginning. The Father loves so completely that He would provide the sacrifice, the atonement, to make it possible for me to come into His presence. Paul lets the revelation of that love just flow from him in this Ephesians 1 passage. Before I can exclaim that “All is lost! I am a sinner!” I am wrapped in the perfect, all-consuming love of the Father and given an eternal life with Him. And so His Spirit provides the balance of truth about the love and power of God.
Please join me this week in reading these passages. Let us meditate on our LORD and allow Him to speak to each of us, spend time with His child like He wants to do so very much.
Holy, Holy, Holy medley sung by Steven Curtis Chapman, original written by Reginald Heber (1826)