Holiness -- Rev Irvin Stapf, Christ Lutheran Germantown, AALC

Posted by Wittenberg Project on Monday, March 11, 2024 with No comments

 Greetings to everyone,

     Here are more reflections from Rev Irvin Stapf, Pastor Emeritus, Christ Lutheran Church, Germantown, MD, AALC. 

Sometime back in grade school, many ..... many years ago, we were introduced to the 1913 poem Trees by Joyce Kilmer with its beginning line, "I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree." The speaker insists that no human art or creation can match the beauty and majesty of nature. A commentary states that, "The poem can thus be read as a hymn of praise to God’s creation, celebrating both the wonder of the natural world and its maker." 

Why this came to mind now I have no idea but the description in the above commentary with the words "beauty", "majesty", and "wonder", are a strong parallel for my thoughts this morning. I'm thinking about the concept of holiness, the awesome wonder and holiness of our Lord God. I think of Moses doing the mundane work of tending a flock of sheep and being confronted by God appearing to him in the form of a burning bush that is not consumed. He heard the words, "take the shoes off your feet for you are standing on Holy ground". (Exodus 3:5) Later, in the Exodus account, Moses has spent time with God and returning to his people with his face radiating light from his holy encounter. (Exodus 34:29f) Or the prophet Isaiah falling prostrate trembling before his vision of God Almighty. (Isaiah 6) There are many such descriptions of encountering God's holiness.
In the fast-paced and event-crowded days we become calloused to a sense of the awe and wonder of the Lord God who appears to us in many and varied ways if we are willing to look around, to think, to meditate, to offer a brief prayer, to worship. The message in today's sermon at church was about a Jealous God who will not allow worship due to Him to be shared with any idols we may create. But this is not because He is a vain and egotistical lord. Rather, His jealousy is for us. We are His creation. He knows that our best good, our most joy-filled life, most secure and a life of peace, is only found when we are enfolded in the presence of His Holy Life. He is the source of life upon which we draw in worship, whether from the wonder of nature, or the setting of corporate worship. It is important for us to look for and enter into that sense of God's Holiness.
It is why we call the room for our worship a Sanctuary. It is why, in that room, we have an altar separated by a chancel rail. It is from this area that we hear the Word of God and receive the Holy Sacrament. There have been times at that rail that I have been unable to speak, and holy tears were the only response I could give. I don't expect everyone to respond the same way, but however you respond realize that you come into the sacred presence of Almighty God. Be humbled and rejoice in it!  It is in God's blessed presence you find your life.
"God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.   .......
“You, Lord, in the beginning, laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain;
And they will all grow old like a garment Like a cloak You will fold them up, And they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will not fail.” (Hebrews 1:1-4, & 10-11)
(Words we can trust: Jeremiah 18:1-6; 29:11; 31:3,
                  & above all Romans 8:38-39)
Irvin F. Stapf, Jr.
Pastor Emeritus
Christ Lutheran Church, TAALC
Germantown, Md. 
cell: 240-285-4472