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December 19, 2016, 12:00 AM

Un-Holy God


The Gospel of Luke tells us that Jesus was born in a stable in the town of Bethlehem, which is about six miles from Jerusalem, where the great Temple stood

In the innermost precinct of the Temple was a sanctuary called the Holy of Holies, which was considered the throne room of God on Earth. 

The word “holy” essentially means “set apart.”  The holiness of God meant that God was utterly above, absolutely beyond, and entirely more pure than we sinful mortals.  In fact, in the Jesus’s  time God’s holiness was stressed to such a point that the name of God which was considered most holy (Yahweh) was not spoken by the common people.  It was considered profoundly disrespectful for an ordinary person to bandy about the Holy Name.  Instead, the normally used the name “Adonai” which translates as ‘Lord.”

The only time the Holy Name was uttered was in the Holy of Holies, by the Chief Priest of Israel, during the most sacred ceremonies.  Otherwise, God was too unapproachable and too pure to be addressed by name.

But, instead of maintaining a safe heavenly distance from our messy, sinful world…instead of remaining inside the gold and marble confines of the Holy of Holies…we proclaim that the God whose name people were too afraid to even speak aloud, chose to enter the world in a dank cave that served as a stable.  We proclaim that God stepped into the frail flesh of a peasant baby whose first crib was an animal feeding trough.  We proclaim that instead of appearing to priests in the Holy of Holies, he was introduced to grubby sheep herders.

This is a God who plunges into the muck, mire, and mess of the world to let us know how passionately we are loved and that we are not alone in our struggles.  This is a God who identifies with the human, the broken, the downtrodden, the left-out, and the stepped-upon.  This is a God who knows what it is to be us, and does not simply coldly observe us from a safe distance while passing down laws and judgments upon us.

This is a decidedly un-holy God! 

And, I thank God for that!

This is a God who is not just with us, but for us, and who proved it by loving us, even when we responded with skepticism, cynicism, and outright hatred.  This is a God of relentless grace.

This un-holy God is our hope!

You are invited to share in our celebrations of that hope on Christmas Eve at 9:00 PM, and on Christmas Day at 10:30.  You don’t have to dress-up.  You don’t have to pretend to be anyone other than who you are.  Come with your faith and hope, come with your doubts and fears.  Come into the presence of an un-holy God…who loves you dangerously, passionately, and profoundly!


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