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October 17, 2021

By Rev. Ian Collier

Just after the Israelites fled Egypt, they found themselves at the base of Sinai and they witnessed God descend to the mountain. God’s very presence made thunder and lightning erupt on the top of the mountain; the people shook with fear – they couldn’t even handle being near God (Exodus 19:16-17). Of course, this was probably the correct response. Being in the presence of God is perhaps the single most dangerous thing that a fallen human can do. Touch God’s mountain? Dead (Exodus 19:9-13). Get too close to God? Dead (Exodus 19:21-22). Touch the Ark that served as God’s throne on Earth? Dead (2 Samuel 6:1-8). The presence of God is about as far from a safe space as you can get. And this isn’t because God is some sort of angry tyrant or a cruel ruler – to the contrary, we know that God has been showing us mercy from the very beginning of humanity’s sin in the Garden of Eden. In fact, everything God does is to bring us closer in relationship to him! Rather, what we see in scripture is that God is just so holy and so perfect that when our sinful selves get too close, it’s us who can’t handle God’s awesomeness. Sin puts separation between our souls and God – a separation that is too much for us to close on our own.

This is where atonement comes in. Atonement – or, at-one-ment – is God’s gift to us so that we can be made at-one with God and overcome the distance that sin has created. In atonement, God provides us the path to be back in relationship with him before we are completely healed of sin. This week, we will read together about the sacrifices in Leviticus and how God gifted the Hebrews with a way to symbolically drive their sins away from them (Leviticus 16:21), and also to temporarily reunite their lives with God without dying themselves (Leviticus 16:15-16).

As Christians, we believe that when God became human in Jesus Christ, the at-one-ment of God and humanity was completed. In Christ’s life, humanity was eternally united with the divine; in Christ’s death, all of humanity was given the ability to return to God in Christ’s single sacrifice of infinite worth. 

As you worship this week, thank God for the ways God has paved these roads for us to return to Him.

Daily Readings

Weekly Prayer

We lift our eyes up to the hills for where does our help come from? Our help comes from you, Lord, maker of heaven and earth. As we gather in your sanctuary, we know we are unworthy to be called your people. We have stumbled over your commandments and injured your community. Do not hide yourself from us God but cover us with your mercy. Make a way for us, by your grace, to come into your presence that we might worship you and grow in faithfulness. Amen.