December 20 / Third Thursday of Advent
Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD? or who may stand in his holy place?
He whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean, who desires not what is vain. ~ Psalm 24:3-4
A young couple in my neighborhood who are about to have their first baby are already worried about getting the child on “the list” for the most desirable nursery school in town. They are hardly the exception, as pressures to compete afflict all of us throughout life. Sometimes it seems that there are hoops to jump through at every turn. Want to join a sports team? Show athletic proficiency. Interested in singing in the madrigal group, or procuring a lead role in the play? Better display your singing or acting ability. Heart set on joining that social club or fraternity? You must boast the right sort of social skills. For college admissions, of course, you must have all of the above, presenting a resume that is characterized by depth, breadth and excellence in all facets of your life. It is exhausting and, at times, even soul-killing. Over against the demands of the world, today’s psalm asks us to consider what admissions standards there are into God’s “holy place.” The good news is that they have nothing to do with what we do, and everything to do with who we are. To live in the presence of God, it is not necessary that we write best-sellers, make stellar grades or run a company or a department. We don’t even need to be able to carry a tune or score a goal. Rather, by the grace of God, we strive to be people of integrity and wholeness, faithful in our intent (the psalmist’s clean heart) and honest and loving in our actions (his sinless hands). To orient our thoughts, words and deeds towards God will gain us admission to the most valuable place in the world, God’s holy mountain.
Holy Lord, fashion my hands and heart to your service, this day and forever.Amen.