The terrain of northeastern Montana and southern Saskatchewan is much the same. So when I accepted a call to a Canadian congregation in early 1973, I naively assumed the move would be much like the terrain. Unprepared for the subtle but very significant cultural differences between the two countries, I was left feeling out of sorts upon my arrival north of the Forty-ninth parallel. By Christmas time, however, the disquiet in me was dissipating and I could begin accepting the welcome which the holy people in Regina had been giving me all along.
They were a holy people not because they welcomed me or because they manifested some attributes commonly associated with holiness. No, they were holy solely because they belonged to a God who is holy. By the grace of a holy God, they not only welcomed an ill-at-ease young pastor but also the poor as they regularly eschewed judgmentalism, slander, hatred and vengeance. Though not perfect in refraining from such ills, they belonged to a holy God who each day called them—and calls us all—to love our neighbor as ourselves.
You are holy, O God, and by your grace we are called holy people. Renew us this day that we may live out our holy calling to love our neighbors as ourselves. Amen.
Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18 (NRSV)
1 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying:
2 Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.
15 You shall not render an unjust judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great: with justice you shall judge your neighbor.
16 You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor: I am the Lord.
17 You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself.
18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.
return to devotion