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Pick a text, any text, this week and we’re confronted with who we are and how we are to be in this world. It can be a celebratory experience – we are holy because God is holy! And it can be a humbling experience – do we really love our neighbors as ourselves?

In Deuteronmy we are reminded of all that Moses did to get the people of God to the Promised Land. Never again has there been such a prophet. God knew Moses face-to-face. In the generations since then, how much distance have we created between ourselves and God? What do we need to change in order to decrease that distance? What are we doing to serve God in the wilderness we wander? We are holy because God is holy.

Psalm 90 presents such compelling images of God being our dwelling place the desire to be satisfied with God’s steadfast love every morning. Don’t you want to live in that place where God’s steadfast love is embodied by all who speak God’s name? Maybe it’s time to having a blessing service where hands and the work they do, are blessed. Maybe then we will remember that the Holy Spirit yearns to empower and bring blessings from the work of our hands. We are holy because God is holy.

The Leviticus passage lays out the rules for living in holy community. It doesn’t get better than this. Imagine who transformed the world would be if every faithful person sought to live out these rules! Justice and love would govern our congregations with significant ramifications for the wider community. How can we better embody this call to love and justice in our own lives, in the lives of our congregations, and in the wider world? Surely, there is a way to diminish the power hatred seems to have usurped in public arenas. We are holy because God is holy.

Psalm 1 reminds us of the joy that can come from honoring God. Living in the Law of Love would shift the way we view one another, wouldn’t it? We know the afflictions that come for walking in the ways of fear and hatred. How can we empower people to walk in God’s ways more consitently? What might change if we paid more attention to those crying out for justice and less attention to those who seek to strengthen division? We are holy because God is holy.

1 Thessalonians might hold the greatest challenge for us – to serve God so fully with our lives that we share not only the power of the Gospel but our very selves. Is our worship a place of extravagant welcome where people can bring the whole of themselves and be upheld in their joy or their pain? How well do we share our lives with one another outside of church activities? What does kinship mean for those of us who follow Christ? We are holy because God is holy.

Then, of course, we come to the Gospel. Jesus very succinctly names the greatest commandments – love God and love your neighbor as yourself. Those who heard him say this would have known the Levitcus passage from which he quoted. They would have known that we are to love our neighbors and ourselves equally because we are God’s holy people. It’s hard to be the people of God if our hearts of full of fear, hatred, or self-focus. We are holy because God is holy.

Maybe we should all just stand in our respective pulpits and say, “WE. ARE. HOLY. BECAUSE. GOD. IS. HOLY. May we have the courage to live into our holiness in a way that pleases and honors God and brings the Realm of God into the here and now. Amen.”


Rev. Dr. Rachael Keefe is an author and the pastor of Living Table United Church of Christ in Minneapolis, MN. You can find links to her blog, video series, and books at Beachtheology.com.


Photo: CC0 image by maxlkt


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6 thoughts on “Revised Common Lectionary:  The You are Holy (so act like it) Edition

  1. I’m headed somewhere with the Deuteronomy passage, somewhere that includes a celebration of our congregation’s 140th anniversary and includes at least a nod to the 500th of the Reformation. Hoping for “somewhere” to be revealed sooner rather than later!

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    1. I hope you find inspiration soon. I think there’s hope, though. Will anyone ever speak of the Church in the way the ancient Israelite spoke of Moses? Have we shown the same fierce, prophetic, faithful leadership?

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  2. I’m preaching on Deuteronomy as part of our series on growing in gratitude. An obstacle to gratitude – our expectations. Undoubtedly Moses was disappointed about not going into the Promised Land. I like Jill Duffield’s comment in the Outlook blog that there is grace in showing Moses the view from the mountain top, as if to say, “well done, good and faithful servant.” I like your questions: “In the generations since then, how much distance have we created between ourselves and God? What do we need to change in order to decrease that distance?” On Reformation Sunday, how do we need to keep on reforming? I think I will talk about how Moses’s story ends but God’s story continues, and we are a part of the story now.

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