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Proper 25A 1st Reading

Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18

Mary Paul

Two challenging phrases rise from this passage: You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy and You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

The “you shall” gets to me, as in, how shall I? This question is followed by a desire not to minimize the call to make it “shallable”. As I ponder these two statements and the whole of the passage I am glad to be reminded of the weekly confession included in many gatherings before communion. A confession that goes something like this:

Most merciful God, we confess the ways that we have sinned against you and others by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways to the glory of your Name. AMEN

I grew up in a church where confession was for those praying a sinner’s prayer (often many times over) and the call of the people of God was to live lives of holiness. There was much good in the church of my youth but the message that I received was pretty consistently that if you needed to confess it was a sign that you had a “broken” relationship with God that needed a new work of grace. You were either “in” or “out” in regards to your relationship with God. It was life giving in so many ways to discover that confession was not just for the rebel but also for the elder child who never left the house of God. Confession also became larger as I began to see the invitation to confession as an opportunity to create space for truth telling and life change. Confession(both corporately and privately) grew to the practice of asking the light of Christ to illumine my mind, soul, spirit, body life and speak the truth of what is revealed. As I have lived into this practice and notion of confession overall I have found it life giving. And yet I find myself also seeing something potentially spiritually lazy creep in.

If I confess in the large terms of not loving my neighbor as myself, or the places and spaces where I am not holy as God is holy what actually am I hoping will arise from this confession? Am I asking simply for a grace filled pass from the “you shalls” in this passage?

The in between words seem to call me to something more than a hall pass;

This list is pretty specific. And while I make no claims that this is an exhaustive description of holy love it’s a pretty good starting point.

Entering into relationships with one another without coming with a ready bias but an open spirit to receive the person, for who they