Epiphany 1, Tuesday, Year B

Inspired by Exodus 30:22-38

“You shall say to the Israelites, ‘This shall be my holy anointing oil throughout your generations. It shall not be used in any ordinary anointing of the body, and you shall make no other like it in composition; it is holy, and it shall be holy to you.’” Exodus 30:31-32 (NRSV)

Most Western cultures and societies have become increasingly informal over the past few decades. In some ways this is a positive thing, as many artificial or needless barriers have been broken down, and there is more equalization between people. But such pervasive informality has also made everything common and ordinary, with very little considered ‘special.’ Even God.

Jesus came to bridge the gap between the Great I AM and fallen humanity. By intent, Jesus is common and ordinary enough that we can relate to him. But Jesus is also God made flesh, and God is still the Great I AM, still the Most Holy God. The humanity of Jesus made it possible for us to approach the throne of God, but we must not lose sight of the fact that God is not to be approached as casually or cavalierly as we would approach a drinking buddy.

Some people complain that more traditional churches are too ritualistic and ‘foreign’ in their worship. However such foreign-seeming rituals can help to remind us that we are doing something different, something special, something more important than anything else we could be doing. God doesn’t need special oils or candles or clothing in order to be worshiped, but we might need those things to remind us that we are worshiping God, and God is uncommon and extraordinary.

Let us pray. Exalted God, we are all equal before you, but we are not equal to you. Enable us to remember your majesty, that we may understand the extraordinariness of your love and your grace. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.