Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Common Made Holy: thoughts on Zechariah 14

I'm going green today.... recycling a past post, that is.

Reading Fr. Andrew's sermon, prompted this, as it reminds me of an awakening I first experienced through the celtic saints: that the handprint of God is to be found in all things. The ancient celtic women said prayers as they lit fires, milked the cows and weaved the cloth. It is this awareness of God with us, before us, behind us, above us, encompassing us -that is another treasure of the ancient faith.

I published the following entry in 2005 on a christian message forum, with regard to the common made holy. This was written prior to my coming home to Orthodoxy. Thank you, Fr. Andrew, for your excellent words and reminding me of how intimate our relationship with God truly is.


Zechariah 14:20,21 “In that day there will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, “HOLY TO THE LORD.” And the cooking pots in the Lord’s house will be like the bowls before the altar. Every cooking pot in Jerusalem and in Judah will be holy to the Lord of hosts; and all who sacrifice will come and take of them and boil in them. And there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts in that day.” The common made holy. Matthew Henry has this to say about these verses from Zechariah:
The name and character of holiness shall not be so confined as formerly. Holiness to the Lord had been written only upon the high priest’s forehead, but now it shall not be so appropriated. All Christians shall be living temples, and spiritual priests, dedicated to the honor of God and employed in his service.
There shall be a more plentiful effusion of the Spirit of holiness and sanctification after Christ’s ascension than ever before. There shall be holiness introduced into common things. The furniture of their horses shall be consecrated to God. …Travelers shall have it upon their bridles, with which they guide their horses, to guide themselves by this rule. …the common drinking cups they used shall be like the bowls before the altar, that were used either to receive the blood of the sacrifices or to present the wine and oil for the drink-offerings. The vessels which they used for their own tables shall be used to the glory of God…
The common made holy… The root of the words translated “holy” and “holiness” is qadas. The verb means “to be consecrated”, “to be dedicated”. Anything that is “holy” is set apart. It is removed from the realm of the common and moved to the sphere of the sacred.

It is important to note that in the Old Testament, holiness is expressed in strict separation, —the clean was to be separated from what was unclean. The New Testament however, the coming of our Saviour Jesus Christ brought a new emphasis and understanding to what is holy. Did Jesus call us to live in strict separation from the sinful world? “I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world” St. Paul (1 Corinthians 5:9-10)

Holiness now is not to be rigorously distinct from common life, but woven throughout our lives in every aspect.

but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” St. Peter (1 Peter 1:15, 16) Moral purity is NOT separate, NOT distinct from what is “common” or “secular” we are called to live HOLY lives within the world in every regard.

For St. Peter goes on to say: “But you are a CHOSEN RACE, a royal PRIESTHOOD, a HOLY NATION, a PEOPLE FOR GOD’S OWN POSSESION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.

Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behaviour excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.”

The separation is in our moral purity —abstain from fleshy lusts which wage war against the soul…., NOT in what we commonly refer to as ‘secular society’. For wherever the Christian IS, that is where his holiness should be evident. Secular society is a myth, a whispering falsehood of Satan at worst.

©2005 ALT

1 comment:

GretchenJoanna said...

What a worthy blog for re-posting. Thank you! These realities have to be constantly re-remembered, if we are to overcome the alienation of various parts of our life one from another.

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