Thursday, April 12, 2012

Set Apart

Psalm 48
8 As we have heard,
so we have seen
in the city of the LORD Almighty,
in the city of our God:
God makes her secure
9 Within your temple, O God,
we meditate on your unfailing love.
10 Like your name, O God,
your praise reaches to the ends of the earth;
your right hand is filled with righteousness.
11 Mount Zion rejoices,
the villages of Judah are glad
because of your judgments.
12 Walk about Zion, go around her,
count her towers,
13 consider well her ramparts,
view her citadels,
that you may tell of them
to the next generation.
14 For this God is our God for ever and ever;
he will be our guide even to the end.

Leviticus 7:22-8:17
The Ordination of Aaron and His Sons

1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Bring Aaron and his sons, their garments, the anointing oil, the bull for the sin offering,[b] the two rams and the basket containing bread made without yeast, 3 and gather the entire assembly at the entrance to the tent of meeting.” 4 Moses did as the LORD commanded him, and the assembly gathered at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 5 Moses said to the assembly, “This is what the LORD has commanded to be done.” 6 Then Moses brought Aaron and his sons forward and washed them with water. 7 He put the tunic on Aaron, tied the sash around him, clothed him with the robe and put the ephod on him. He also fastened the ephod with a decorative waistband, which he tied around him. 8 He placed the breastpiece on him and put the Urim and Thummim in the breastpiece. 9 Then he placed the turban on Aaron’s head and set the gold plate, the sacred emblem, on the front of it, as the LORD commanded Moses. 10 Then Moses took the anointing oil and anointed the tabernacle and everything in it, and so consecrated them. 11 He sprinkled some of the oil on the altar seven times, anointing the altar and all its utensils and the basin with its stand, to consecrate them. 12 He poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron’s head and anointed him to consecrate him. 13 Then he brought Aaron’s sons forward, put tunics on them, tied sashes around them and fastened caps on them, as the LORD commanded Moses.

Mark 2:13-28
Jesus Calls Levi and Eats With Sinners

13 Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. 14 As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.15 While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Reflections: Psalm 48 introduces the idea of the city of God, the holy place where God dwells and protects her by its ramparts and towers. Since Israel was constantly defending itself and rarely had a time of peace, the idea of God’s holy city where God dwelt in the temple was a guiding image and a focus of worship for the Israelites. The idea of Zion was one where God would increasingly bless the people and make His name known among them here on this earth. It is similar to the concept we pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” As they meditated on God’s unfailing love in the temple, it would be something they would retell from generation to generation.

In Leviticus
, we continue to see God commanding Moses to set apart the holy things for His use to dwell in their midst as well. Aaron and His sons are washed, anointed, and then wear elaborate paraments to signify that they are set apart and consecrated to usher in God’s presence among them. They wore a breastpiece, also called “ephod”, over their hearts to protect them and also they were embedded with Urim and Thummin. These were generally thought of certain stones that were also used for divination purposes and for discernment of what was innocent or guilty as they dealt with matters within the faith community. Just as God gives anointed leaders today the power of the Holy Spirit to discern between truth and error.

In our Gospel lesson, in Mark 2
, we see Jesus calling his first disciples. Among them are Levi, the tax collector, also called Matthew. Levi then invited Jesus to his house, where many other tax collectors and sinners were gathered. The Pharisees criticized him for fraternizing with such people, but Jesus clarified his true mission when he says, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick. I have come not to call the righteous but sinners.” Of course what he meant by this was, “Those who recognize their sin and see their need for forgiveness are the ones who I can help and use for God’s purposes.”

So what is our common theme? God is holy and His kingdom, which is marked by his holiness and power, will come on earth as it is in heaven. And God uses unholy people like you and me to help usher in His kingdom. As we are washed in the blood of the Lamb and filled with His Holy Spirit through our belief in Him and our Baptism into the Triune God; we are set apart and ordained for ministry. Yes that’s right I said ordained for ministry. We all have different gifts to help usher in God’s kingdom, but as we have received the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are each anointed to be a part of God’s restoration process in bringing lost people to Him and bringing in His kingdom values into the world until He returns to complete the process.

Indeed, you are my lamp, O Lord, the Lord lightens my darkness. 2 Samuel 22:29

Christ says, "I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness." John 12:46

Christ Jesus, let your light continue to be a beacon to us as we move from darkness to the hope and joy and peace of your light. Illuminate our way with your grace. In your name we pray. Amen.

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