Monday, June 04, 2007
Holy Ground 1
Growing up in church you hear all the rules about how to act at church: don't run, don't wear your hat, don't wear shorts (at least in my family), no jeans on Sunday morning, no sandals (even though I still argue that's what Jesus wore), and other rules. After all church (the building) is the "House of the Lord," and you would not want to desecrate "Holy Ground." When I was a youth minister in Oklahoma, I had some of the poorest kids in the country in my youth group. I would always get in trouble for what they were wearing, what they broke, how fast they were moving. And why? Because it is the House of God, holy ground. There's a lot of people that feel that way. At the church where I serve right now, we are going through VBS and a couple of kids were running down an aisle, and got chewed out for doing so. Again, Holy ground, the House of God. But what really is Holy Ground? I understand wanting to keep a building looking good, and I'm all for that. However, I do think we ought to rethink using the House of God, Holy Ground argument. I got back from Kenya a week ago. I was there for 2 weeks, and they were the most enjoyable two weeks of my life. It wasn't anything that I did. It was because for the first time in my life, I was on Holy Ground. I'm not saying Kenya itself is Holy, it is as fallen as any other place. But God is definitely at work there in places that you do not expect. In fact, Holy Ground in the Bible is found in unexpected places as well. Take for instance the story of Moses. Here is a man who grew up in the privileged house of Pharaoh. He saw one of his own people get murdered so he took revenge and hid the victim in the sand. Moses then flees to the backwoods, and for forty years hides out there in his father-in-law's house. Then out of no where, in the middle of no where, as the Hebrew reads behind the dessert (you can't be anymore backwoods than that) YHWH appears to Moses in a burning bush that does not burn. And what does God say about that place in the middle of no where behind the dessert, "The place where you are standing is Holy Ground." It wasn't a grand temple, or a wealthy city, it was a bush in the middle of nowhere that God declared Holy Ground. In another story, Jacob was fleeing his brother Esau. The Genesis account then says Jacob rested his head in a "certain place." In other words, in the middle of nowhere. But it was there in that certain place that Jacob had a dream of a ladder going up to heaven, and God made a promise to Jacob. When Jacob woke up, he said, "God is in this place, and I did not know it." In a certain place and in a burning bush behind the dessert, God revealed himself to these two pillars of faith, and changed the course of not only their lives, but the course of the history of God's people. In Kenya, I got a glimpse of this, and my next few posts will tell the stories of where and how God is working in unexpected places.