Clean Hands and a Pure Heart
Reflecting on The Reign of Christ: Two Days after Sunday (Year C)
Psalter: Psalm 117
Old Testament: Jeremiah 30:18-24
Epistle: Revelation 22:8-21
Psalter: Psalm 24
Old Testament: Isaiah 33:17-22
Epistle: Revelation 22:8-21
Holy God, our refuge and strength, you have redeemed your scattered children, gathering them from all the corners of the earth through your firstborn, the Christ, in whom all things are held together. Make of us a just and righteous people, worthy by grace to inherit with him the kingdom of light and peace where he reigns with you and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
Those who have clean hands and pure hearts,
who do not lift up their souls to what is false
and do not swear deceitfully (Psalm 24:3-4).
by Joan Stott
As a child, clean hands always were associated with being able to sit at the meal table; to meet “nice” people; being encouraged to sit on the “good” furniture in the lounge; and going to church with not only clean hands, but also a clean dress! Those “clean hands” procedures were originally a parental or older sibling responsibility, which it was hoped would continue throughout one’s life. In ancient times, there were many purification rules of “clean hands” relating to everyday life, but also to the worship of God as the hands and mouth had to be cleansed before speaking the name of God in an act of worship or prayer. In daily life, “clean hands” also referred not only to prepare oneself before a meal, but also clean hands after a meal as well, in order to wash off the salt that was included as a preservative in their food, which may permanently damage the eyes if they were rubbed.
Creative pause: Do I cleanse my hands and mouth before speaking God’s name?
The “clean heart” procedures was often a shared role within my family, with many loving and well-intentioned people contributing to their understanding and the hope of my “clean heart” before God; with my actions and words often their only real sign of the purity of my heart before God. However, long ago, God reminded Samuel that God only notices the purity of our hearts, and not our outward appearances. My “clean hands and heart” are now my responsibility before God, and I pray that I am acceptable to my God.
Creative pause: I am responsible before God for my own clean hands and heart.
According to the Psalmist, people who had passed the “clean hands and hearts” test, but who also did not worship idols or tell lies will be blessed by God. We hear many untruths called “little white lies”, and I am as guilty as anyone else with the lies that I tell, and the truth that I stretch for my own purposes! In my travels I have seen many authentic “idols”, and have felt not the least interest in offering them any act of worship; but, what about my own personal idols - those things that I consider vital to my life and happiness? Have I turned these habits and choices into idols which have a higher priority than the private or shared worship of my God; and have I chosen them over the joy of experiencing God’s gift of blessedness? I sincerely pray that is not so!
Creative pause: Surely, the joy of God’s blessedness is much more desirable!
PRAYER: Almighty God, You rescue us from our enemies, that we may serve you without fear. Strengthen us, that we may share in the inheritance of the saints in your kingdom of light. Amen.
More reflections from “The Timeless Psalms” can be found here.
You're welcome. Depending upon my schedule each week, I can't always write my own reflection every day and I think it is good to include other voices in the mix.
Thanks for introducing me to meditations by Joan Stott.