Reflections for the Fifth Week of Lent

john 12While we can inhabit holy spaces, scripture reveals that the holy inhabits us as well. God puts the holy law within us. God writes on our hearts. God cleans us from the inside out.

As we consider holy spaces along this Lenten journey, we must recognize that our very bodies are holy spaces because God promises to be within them. Paul acknowledges this truth when he writes to the church in Corinth that “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you. Don’t you know that you have the Holy Spirit from God, and you don’t belong to yourselves?”. Leave it to Paul to point out the flip side of God dwelling within us–it means that we do not belong to ourselves. Or, as Jesus put it: “Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

To claim something as holy is to assert that it is set apart, that it is wholly other. To acknowledge the holy is to admit that, as the saying goes, there is a God, and I’m not her. When we are in a holy space, we are in the presence of something beyond us. Something more than us. Something that calls for sacrifice, for service. We carry our covenant with God, our commitment to follow Christ, within us. Every day. Every step.

It is, perhaps, not particularly surprising or offensive to claim that the holy calls for service and sacrifice on the part of us mere mortals. But we see in this week’s readings that the cross is the culmination, the transformation, of God’s covenant with the people. And this shocking cross stands as witness that the Holy One is also willing to sacrifice and serve. God does not ask of us anything that God was not willing to do in Christ.

The One who is wholly other is also one of us. It is the divine mystery of the incarnation. A mystery that is deepened and darkened as we move closer and closer to the crucifixion. A mystery that holds us warm and secure in the darkness, like a seed hidden in the soil, dying, dying, in anticipation of spring.


Holy One,
Dwell within me;
Whisper in my ear;
Glimmer in my vision;
Write upon my heart.
I wait
with ears, eyes, heart open.

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