Who Makes Whom Holy?
Lord, help me to make this time holy, a time set apart for reading Your Word and absorbing its meaning.
Read Exodus 29:1-28
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Holiness is a condition of purity or freedom from sin, or being set apart to special service” (Millard Erickson).
This complex ceremony may seem unnecessarily pretentious, but it’s not. Holiness in Hebrew means being set apart for a purpose. People make things holy; people set them apart for God’s service. These rituals ensured that this setting apart was cemented in the minds of priest and people. Have we become so sophisticated that we think ordination needs only prayer and intellectual assent when, for thousands of years, our Christian forebears understood the need for symbolic action to fix meaning into people’s consciousness?
Each stage of Aaron’s consecration had deep meaning. He was washed, the old clothing and all it represented stripped away and replaced with the new (4,5). He was anointed, the mark of being chosen (7). The altar he would serve at was made holy with the blood and fire of sacrifice (10-13). His sins were symbolically carried away, destroyed outside the camp (14). The first offering on the altar was for God (18). The blood of the second, “the ram for the ordination” (22), marked Aaron on ear, hand and foot, reminding him to be attuned to God’s voice and the needs of the people. Blood and oil symbolically marked his robes, something he would recall every time he dressed (19-21). Finally the practical note: all were reminded of the priest’s right to live on his share of the offerings (27,28).
My denomination tries to make ordinations memorable, but perhaps it fails at other levels. We commission all manner of people—youth workers, council members, lay ministers and more—but perhaps we do it in a perfunctory manner. Perhaps we do not sufficiently express in memorable ways the importance and, indeed, the holiness of these callings to our church community.
When you set apart people as leaders in your church, how could you better impress upon their consciousness the holiness of their positions?
Holy Spirit, continue to make me more holy, more like Jesus. I’m grateful I’m not what I was but I need to be what I should be, to God’s glory.
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