Standing on Holy Ground

Then he said, ‘Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’   (Exodus 3:5)

One of my great teachers on the importance of honoring and respecting holy things was Joe Halpfinger. The Halpfingers were orthodox Jews, and they hired me—at 8 years old—to do household chores so that they could honor their Sabbath Day observances.

The most lasting lesson “Mr. H” gave was when I got into trouble with him. One day I found a box of yarmulkes in our shared garage. It seemed to me like those yarmulkes needed to be shared, so I decided to sell them to some kids in the neighborhood.

When Mr. H returned home from work, he saw a dozen kids—all Gentiles—wearing his yarmulkes. Kindly but firmly, he asked me if I was responsible. When I told him that I was, he asked me to collect all the yarmulkes. He then dismissed the kids and asked that we sit down together. As he talked with me about why he wore a yarmulke, I was receiving some of my first lessons about how and why we need to honor holy things.

Do we respect the holy things in our own lives? When we open the bible, or when we open the doors of our places of worship, do we have a moment of awe and wonder?

Or, how about the other holy things that are precious to us? For instance, when we put our arms around our spouse, do we know that we’re standing on “holy ground?” Or, how about the sometimes dreaded bedtime hour with the kids, do we remember just how holy they are, both in our eyes and in God’s?

I encourage us to identify the holy people and the holy things in our lives. I then encourage us to ask if we’re giving enough reverence, honor, and awe to those people and things that are most holy to God and to us.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What are the holy things and people in your life? What makes them holy? How do you reverence them?
  1. One of the challenges with our frequent contact with our holy objects is that we can begin to take them for granted. Has that ever happened to you with the things or people that are most sacred to you?
  1. How would your life be different if you realized that every day, every interaction, every relationship, and every action, has the potential to be “holy ground?”

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