I’ve heard from many people that this Holy Week has felt strange–disconnected from family and loved ones, separated from the physical space we worship together in, and still seeking to find a new normal as the stay at home order continues. And at the same time, as I met with the Junior/Senior Group virtually this week, I was reminded that the word “holy” both in the original Greek and Hebrew, means “set apart.”
We talked about 1 Peter 1:13-16, which says:
13 Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed. 14 Like obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance. 15 Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; 16 for it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
At first, these words felt like an impossible task on an already lengthy list of things to do. As we sat with these verses and dug into the text though, we realized that being holy isn’t about work that we have to do, but about the work God has already done through Jesus Christ that we remember this week. We found out that verse 16 is a quote from Leviticus 19:2, where God is speaking to the Israelites and telling them how they should live as a rescued people and breaking down the Ten Commandments with more detail. In its original context in Leviticus, the charge to be holy was in many ways a list of things to do.
But in 1 Peter, Christ has come, and these words take on new meanings. God acknowledges the brokenness of humanity and our sinfulness, and in much the same way God did with the Israelites, rescues us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, forgiving sin, and making a way for us to be holy, and set apart.
We also noted how pertinent verse 13 has been for all of us as we find a new normal for school, work, and being community. Stories of mindfulness and mental preparedness to start each day were shared, and conversation about finding new routines and discipline to learn new things and accomplish the work set before us were transformed through the reminder that God is our hope and our salvation.
It may be strange to be “set apart” this Holy Week, and it feels odd that in a season of celebration of the resurrection, we will not be together in the way we have become accustomed. There is hope in the apart-ness though: hope that we are, through our actions of separation, sharing God’s love for our neighbors, and hope that in this season we are reminded of God’s resurrecting power that is coming.
I pray that this Easter you would know deeply the joy and holiness that comes from God, and that today, on Good Friday, you would be comforted by the realization that it is okay to grieve and acknowledge the losses we are experiencing and the sacrifices being made. May God bring you peace in this season of being set apart and may you find God’s holiness in each new day, Amen.
High School & Young Adult Coordinator