So we’ve started our holiday, our first night overnight in New Zealand at a friend’s house. Myself, Kelly (wife) and Rennie (16 son) staying with a family we met at Ren’s school, they have a daughter the same age. I’ve missed them a lot, they were our goto bored-on-a-Friday night dinner companions for quite a few years when they lived in Sydney.
Wonderful, creative, hilarious people. Improbably, we shared Christmas quite often too, not remotely sharing a faith but enjoying each other’s company and the weirdness of Christmas culture together anyway.
Today we head off on a road trip which I hope isn’t too onerous, the First three days down the North island with our friends, and then on down the South island just us three.
The Bible passage today has yet more detail about the temple, today particularly the holy rooms where the priests changed clothes to go and offer sacrifices within the layers and layers of holiness that led to the presence of God.
Before they can mingle with anyone else, they must change back out of the special clothes.
Remembering how comfortable and included I felt in our circle of quite Bohemian people, how much I admire them, and aware often of how far short of God’s holiness I am, the emphasis on holiness as an unattainable standard is confronting. Even I, a god botherer, feel so inadequate, how much more distant from God could my atheist friends be?
But Jesus was inclusive. And when he died, the curtain in the temple that separated humankind from God was torn in two.
It’s a lesson in love. A revelation of the cost of love. Unless you know there is a cost, you won’t know how deep it is.
Like when children grow up with loving parents and go out into the world, and have the prodigal son’s realisation that the world is a lot harsher than home.
They learn the hard way to value and crave the love they took for granted at home. They go back getting a little ashamed, pathetic and uncertain. And there is God running down the field in joy to celebrate, wrap them in an embrace and feast with them.
Holiness helps us comprehend God’s pain and joy in loving us.
I’m feeling very open to joy and adventure as we set out on this holiday.