Email Devotion, Pentecost 6
“Qodesh cheres … Holy vessels.” That was the phrase the guest rabbi used in his comments. But in describing the Jewish usage of the phrase, he noted that the description did not mean a vessel which embodies holiness in its nature, but that of an ordinary vessel holding holy things.
The speaker was Rabbi Richard Hammerman, a member of the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Assembly of Conservative Judaism, stationed in New York. He was the rabbinic official presiding over the installation of the new rabbis at Temple Beth El in East Petersburg. Our local synagogue invited St. Peter’s rostered leaders and spouses to attend and Nancy and I and Pr. Sarah were able to be at the service, in support of Rabbis Pavolotzky and Szuster. Rabbi Hammerman proposed that being a “holy vessel” is the role a rabbi adopts in a congregation … namely being an ordinary person, who embodies holy message and holy ministry.
I find the image compelling. Most of us would not describe ourselves with the word “holy.” But most of us would acknowledge that the message and ministry with which we have been commissioned as children of Christ, is in fact “holy.” Most of us would be quick to point out that we are not something special and unique, but that the message that we bear in our lives and actions is as special as it comes. We would be quick to identify that we are not to focus of the message but ones who point to another One who is. Holy Vessels in the spirit of our Jewish brothers and sisters, indeed.
So, if you can wrap your spirit around this image of being a holy vessel, then in your prayer life this week, try exploring those holy gifts and words and messages that you bear on behalf of God … those holy offerings that you gift to the world in God’s name. Are they gifts in the realm of teaching or mentoring? Is the holiness you bear best seen in the ministry you extend to the poor and the disenfranchised in our world? Are those places where you are the most effective conduit of God’s Holy Spirit, ones in which worship and prayer are front and center? Maybe the holiness you bear on behalf of God is expressed in the caretaking of the very young or the very old. Whatever the setting, give thanks for the gift of God’s Spirit, and the blessing of being an ordinary vessel within whom God has placed a holy gift … and use it in God’s name.
Now set your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God. Go and build the sanctuary of the Lord God so that the ark of the covenant of the Lord and the holy vessels of God may be brought into a house built for the name of the Lord.’
–1 Chronicles 22:19, NRSV
Dear Lord, I am no longer my own, but thine. Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt. Put me to doing, put me to suffering. Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee, exalted for thee or brought low for thee. Let me be full, let me be empty. Let me have all things, let me have nothing. I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal. And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it. And the covenant which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.
~~~ John Wesley, “Covenant Prayer”