Numbers 1–3, Psalm 40, Mark 14
If we’re going to say anything about the beginning chapters of Numbers, we would say they are about divine holiness: the holiness of God and our response to God’s holiness as God’s holy people. In Numbers, God first identifies God’s holy people, setting them apart with a census, numbering more than 600,350. Next, God equips each and every person in her or his mission as one of God’s holy people.
Psalm 40 reminds each of us of our devotion to and trust in God. We’re always grateful for the blessing of God’s saving grace. But then another thing comes along, a new obstacle, a calculated threat, and there we are once again, on our knees, begging God. What an amazing God we have, who patiently, lovingly listens to our words and our pleas and in our need gives us full life with all its ups and downs, loving us in the midst of it. Mark 14 is an emotionally heartwrenching chapter that leads us to the climax of God’s purpose for us: holy life in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The ambiguity of our ability to honor our holiness is truthfully told in the vivid tale of the devotion of the wasteful, anointing woman, the deception of greedy Judas, the denial of pitiful Peter, the naked desertion of faithful followers, and the frightened falseness of the religious authorities, as Jesus is led away in the midst of verbal and physical abuse. Always, we are challenged in Mark’s Gospel with the glory of God’s salvation shining through the pain of struggle and suffering. We finish the chapter recognizing all too clearly the thinness of our faith. And yet, it is Christ who believes so fully in us. The words “Take, eat,…drink this” are Jesus’ words for us, not just to remember but to know fully: the very holiness of God, given to us at creation and promised to us in the Exodus, is holiness in us, with us, and through us in the institution of the Lord’s holy meal.
Consider how God has set you apart and named you as God’s holy one. What does God expect of you?
Who are you in Jesus’s story in Mark 14? What do you want to say to Jesus? What do you hear Jesus saying to you?
Glorious Lord of all, we pray and give thanks that you call us to be your holy people. Fill us with all truth and peace. Where we are right, strengthen us; where we are in want, provide for us; where we are divided, reunite us; inspire us and guide us that in all things and in all places, we will glorify your holy name. Amen.
-The Rev. Hillary T. West
St. Thomas Church, Whitemarsh
Fort Washington, Pennsylvania