Holy, Holy, Holy

Today’s Scripture Selection: Leviticus 23:1

(As we resume our chronological walk through the scriptures, we are jumping ahead to Leviticus, chapter 23.  Here, after we have been presented with the various rules and regulations regarding worship, we are reminded that at their core, they remind the people of one critical thing: the holiness of God and of how, as God’s people, they are to make living holy lives their central priority.)

“The LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘These are my appointed feast, the appointed feasts of the LORD, which you are to proclaim at sacred assemblies.”

Some people make a lot of religion.

Others couldn’t care less.

Some walk so carefully, religiously speaking, one might wonder how they can relax and enjoy life at all.  Their lives are joyless, compulsive, obsessive went it comes to matters of ritual purity – whatever their particular religion might be.

Others fly by the seat of their pants, acting as if anyone who “reveres” anything is some sort of “religious” nut.  Their lives are wild, undisciplined, self-serving went it comes to matters of ritual purity – something they quickly dismiss as mere superstition at best.

Still others strike to find some balance between these two extremes.

For the Israelites – religious ritual, festivals, holiness, was something they took very seriously – at least part of the time.

Sometimes they “overdid” it – making an idol out of their very religion.  Sometimes it was as if there was no God – they were gods themselves.

Thousands of years later, we must face the same challenge.

We must somehow find a way to live the holy lives God would have us live – yet not become obsessed with matters of religion – “works” righteousness.

It’s a delicate balance.   It’s found, I believe, by focusing on relationship more than ritual, no matter how beautiful that ritual might be.

I have no problem with rituals – after all, I am an ordained minister.  I spend a good part of my life performing them.

I just don’t want them to become little gods in themselves.

How about you?

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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