“A priest is a priest no matter where she happens to be. Her job is to recognize the holy in things and hold them up to God. Her job is to speak in a way that helps other people recognize holiness of things, too.”
-Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church
I wonder where everybody is today. Are you driving across state lines, heading to Grandma’s house or Cousin Jenny’s cabin for the holiday? Are you crouched under the weight of deadlines, hoping to wrap that project up before Christmas? Are you juggling kids out of school and relatives headed to your house, while facing the needs of five thousand people with one turkey and a basket of biscuits on Thursday? Or are you wondering where and when you’ll eat this proverbial meal of thanks, if you get to eat it all this year?
Wherever you are, God has placed holy things around you, and He longs to draw his purposes from them in order to reveal Himself to you in deeper ways. This fact is a mystery of God and one of the great the beauties of the Christian faith.
“Holy” means set apart for God’s express use. In the Old Testament, the furniture in the Temple was holy, and God called the Sabbath holy. A holy life isn’t earned by good behavior. When we recognize the set apart-ness in the things around us, we better understand how to live holy lives.
We have to find the things in life that mirror the gospel truths of grace, mercy, justice, sin, and our great need for salvation.
Yesterday we took our children ice skating for the first time. At first, they looked like Bambi on the ice, all awkward and leggy. After a few times around the rink, clutching the side wall with white knuckles, their ability grew and they started venturing out on their own. They fell and got back up, sometimes they laughed, and a once or twice there were real-deal tears because blisters were forming on their feet.
Today they have holy bruises all over their knees.
My kids are so proud of those purple marks. They did something hard, they learned something new, they courageously fell and got back up and tried again. They didn’t let the more experienced skaters flying by them, doing turns and flips make them feel insecure. They just fought to make it around without holding on, then they tried to go twice around without falling. Improvement, not perfection was their goal. They would wave at me as they flew past, and I couldn’t help but smile and wave back. I was delighted to see them out there, being resilient and brave.
Then, when they were beat up and tired, they stopped. There is a lot to be said for the holiness of setting aside our efforts and resting.
Wherever you are today, I hope you see the holiness in the things around you. I hope that holiness reminds you that God has given you many things to be thankful for, but most of all, He has given you Himself. He has made you His very own set-apart son or daughter.
You are a priest out there, wherever you are. You carry the power and love of God within you in equal amounts. You may look like Bambi on ice a little too often, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t right where you need to be. Our scars and bruises prove we have fought the good fight. Our joy proves that God has never left us alone in the midst of our struggle. He delights to see us out there, resilient and brave.
Have the best Thanksgiving ever, whatever that means for you in your current situation. Savor the holiness of a meal spent with God’s people. Bless the plates that are placed before you. Give thanks for His love that can never be taken from us. Seek the holy, so that you might understand how to live a holy life, set apart for His purposes.
And maybe go ice skating, too. I highly recommend it.