No Tide Pens back then

IMG_20150103_172451138My biological mother was a fabulous 1960’s stay-at-home suburban homemaker.  (My beautiful stepmother was also, I just hadn’t met her yet!)  Now, granted, Mom didn’t waltz around in a dress, heels, and pearls like the old black and white reruns.  But she could clean and cook with the best of them.

And, wow could she sew!  She made play clothes for me, and she even made beautiful formal gowns for herself. 

IMG_20160227_094854094Now play clothes were different than church clothes or school clothes back then.  Play clothes were to do things you expect to get dirty in, like climbing trees.  And your school clothes might even get a bit scuffed up.  But church clothes, if you were fortunate enough to have them, were a bit more top shelf.  Those you kept clean, generally speaking.

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Definitely play clothes for the sandbox Dad made for us.

So this cracks me up when I read what God was preparing for the newly-delivered slaves from Egypt:

“Make sacred garments for Aaron that are glorious and beautiful.”

If you remember, Aaron was Moses’ brother, and God had appointed him to be the first installment of the high priesthood of God’s nation, Israel.  This was a pretty big deal, as we can see by the expansively immaculate and expensively decorative apparel that was being prepared for the office.  It included:

  • Fine linen cloth embroidered with gold, purple, blue and scarlet thread complemented by a matching sash,
  • Braided cords of pure gold attached at the shoulder
  • Multiple engraved gems and stones like onyx, emerald, moonstone, turquoise and amethyst, (to name a few) set in gold filigree,
  • A hem of gold bells and colored yarn made into pomegranates
  • A turban sporting an engraved gold medallion.

No offense to my mom, but this was a bit more upscale than what her old Kenmore could crank out.

Now here’s the kicker.  At the dedication of this priesthood:

“Then take some of the blood from the altar and some of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it on Aaron and his sons and on their garments. In this way, they and their garments will be set apart as holy.”

Are you kidding?!  Can you imagine what the “skilled craftsmen (and women)” were thinking when Moses doused their beautiful work with oil and blood?  (And you men, do you have any idea what it’s like trying to get oil and blood out of clothing??)

I just love this.  It’s telling me that whatever I bring to God, my most beautiful craftsmanship (career, music, blogging?), my most precious possession (husband, children, reputation?), must first be covered by the blood (redemption) of Jesus to be fully serviceable, and drenched in the oil (power) of the Holy Spirit to be effective in that service.  Who am I to think otherwise?

So heed a little warning—think before you commit to Christ what you consider your most prized “possession”, because it’s going to get stained. 

For eternity.

 

Exodus 28:2; 29:21  Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Blood…or bleach??

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Bleach.  I grew up with the fragrance.  It reminds me of my grandmother’s house.  I use it occasionally at home, and frequently at work it to decontaminate and “bathe” my CPR manikins.  And,yes, it stains, believe me, I know.  But then I’ve also had to deal with blood stains, oil stains, etc. It’s a really good thing that I’m into second hand clothes.  I don’t actually deserve new clothing.  In my line of work (school nurse) and with my lifestyle (somewhat sloppy), I’m just too hard on them, and they would worry me too much.

I think I’m in good company.  I’m currently reading the part of the Old Testament where Moses is setting up his brother Aaron and sons with the very solemn and important priesthood for the wandering nation of Israel.  This is a really big deal.  All kinds of preparations and sacrifices have been made exactly to God’s specifications; there have been many kinds of talents involved here: metal workers, artists, seamstresses, carpenters, and the list goes on.  For these new priests, beautiful clothes have been painstakingly designed and created (no sewing machines back then…OH! the things I take for granted!)

Then the ceremony begins, and I pick it up here, (and I quote):

“So Moses took some of the anointing oil and some of the blood which was on the altar and sprinkled it on Aaron, on his garments, on his sons, and on the garments of his sons with him; and he consecrated Aaron, his garments, and his sons, and the garments of his sons with him.”  (Leviticus 8:30)

OIL??  BLOOD?? Do you know how hard it is to clean oil and blood out of clothing? Even with our fancy 21st century chemistry, oil and blood are still high on the list of nasty stain-makers.  I can just hear Mrs. Aaron now.  “Aw, c’mon, guys.  I just finished that tunic.  Those men can never keep anything clean!”

Interestingly, it wasn’t the beauty of the garment that made them special. It may have been the high quality linen, the color and stitching of the embroidery, and the mastery of the craftsmanship that went into all of it that made it beautiful.  But it was the oil and the blood that made it holy.

I like the fact that the word holy comes from a root word meaning “whole”.  So holy includes the concept of the whole picture, the entire situation, even an eternal outcome.  It also adds the idea of wholeness to the motive, and the internal configuration of the person involved.  Holiness denotes a shift in the spiritual DNA producing a wholeness otherwise unaccounted for.  It causes a willingness to get dirty with humanity on God’s level, and not merely my own.

Take home lesson for me: even my finest “clothing”, that is, the things I wrap around my identity like projects, character traits, even relationships, must be “stained” with the oil of the Holy Spirit’s anointing, and the blood of Jesus’ sacrifice to be acceptable to God, or in other words, holy.

Otherwise, they’re just pretty clothes that will soon become stained by the effects of the world at large.  Kinda like my bleach….

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.