February 12, 2018

Wholeness and Holiness

February 12, 2018


Psalm 110:1-4

Exodus 19:7-25

Hebrews 2:1-4

This weekend’s reading: Luke 23:34

February is American Heart Month, intended to raise awareness of heart disease and its prevention. Cardiologists encourage healthy eating and regular exercise, but they also know there is more to a healthy heart than “dos and don’ts.” Sometimes intervention is required and that can be shocking, literally, as in cardioversion, or ablation, or the most earth-shaking of all, open-heart surgery.

Walter Brueggemann, in commenting on today’s reading from Exodus 19, says that God is doing something purposely shocking in his encounter with Moses and the wandering Hebrews at the holy mountain. The description sounds like an earthquake or a volcano exploding (v. 18), but it is a theophany, God making his presence known to people who were going along with life and relegating their religion to the “innocuous fringes.” God’s intervention is for the purpose of transforming the people.

Brueggemann says about the encounter, “It models an endangered community that is willing to entertain holiness at its center. The narrative is so dramatic that we may miss its uncommon affirmation. . . . In vv. 18 and 20, God ‘comes down.’ This is an entry of heaven into earth, and earth is never the same again” [New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. I, (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994) p. 839].

Are we ready for the coming seasons of Lent and Easter? Are we ready for the shock of the cross of Jesus Christ and the equally shocking revelation of the empty tomb? Are we ready to put God’s holiness back at the center of our lives?


  • John Wesley as a young man said that being holy was his first priority in life, and he and his brother formed the “Holy Club” with students at Oxford. We know that they met together to pray and encourage each other, and also that they were faithful in prison ministry. What do these activities say about holiness? Is our church a “holiness church”?
  • When we examine the priorities of our lives, where does holiness fit in? How does being holy help us become whole persons?


  • How hard is it to be different from other kids at school or people at work? How does being holy make us different? What gives us courage to try to live a holy life?
  • Plan family activities for holiness in Lent. Set some goals for prayer, Bible study, and mission. What can we do to be closer as a family and also have closer communion with the people Jesus calls neighbors and friends during this time?

Holy God, come to us now and wake us up so that we may return to you as the center of our lives. Send us your Spirit of Holiness. Give us a clear vision of who you are in all your power and glory, and grant us the joy of being your holy people. In Jesus’ name. Amen.