When A Purple-Haired Priest Speaks

While taking senior pictures in downtown Ashland early yesterday evening,

I never dreamed the middle-aged woman who passed us in an alley was a priest at a nearby church.

I’m not sure if it was her sweatpants or the purple stripes in her short brown hair that threw me off.

Whatever the case, I wouldn’t have chosen her as a priest in a long line-up of options.

On her way to an exercise class with other church members,

she apologized for her outward appearance

but took time to make small talk with us

as she headed into the church building we were using as a backdrop.

It’s not every day I meet someone who claims that title,

so I couldn’t help but ask the first thing that entered my mind.

“What do you think of the book of Leviticus?”

The irony of that moment didn’t hit me until this morning.

Who gets to ask that question to a priest with purple hair?

My only regret was not asking if I could take her picture.

Her answer to the question I did ask, though, was perfect.

She sighed and said,

“Ahhhhh……Leviticus…..it’s a hard one.  But it’s the law. And we need it.”

She then went on her way.

And we went on ours.

I didn’t give her words much more thought until this morning as I was reading Deuteronomy 4-7.

Moses stands before the Israelites to speak.

In a final attempt to instill in them the importance of keeping God’s commands before they enter the promised land,

he warns them of the danger of false gods.

All the while, he reminds them of God’s faithfulness

and encourages them to teach all they have learned to their children and grandchildren.

Moses knows his own death his near,

and he won’t have the chance to do this himself.

He will soon exit the story of the redemption of God’s people,

passing the baton as his death draws near.

Don’t someone’s last words seem to matter most?

What does Moses want the Israelites to remember?

What is pressing on his heart as he looks out into  the crowd and makes eye contact with so many different people he has grown to love?

What does he want them to remember after he is gone?

Fear God. Obey His laws.

Seek Him with all your heart, soul, and mind.

Tear down every idol.

Worship only Him.

As difficult as it was for me to blog through Leviticus,

I’m realizing something this morning.

The purple-haired priest was right.

Leviticus is the law.

And we need it.

We can’t obey someone who doesn’t tell us what to do.

And we can’t trust someone who doesn’t have a reason for the commands they give.

God set boundaries in Leviticus as any good parent does today.

And there were consequences when these boundary lines were crossed.

So Moses reviews the ten commandments with his audience,

reminding them of the fear they felt in Horeb as God spoke from the mountain blazing with fire

and how this fear moved them to obedience.

Ultimately, their obedience moved them closer and closer to Him –

the One who loved them most.

God no longer speaks from mountains blazing with fire.

But maybe He’s okay with speaking through purple-haired priests.

Leviticus…..it’s a hard one.

But it’s the law.

And we need it.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;

all who follow his precepts have good understanding.

To him belongs eternal praise.

Psalm 111:10

And our children do too.

Deut. 6:5-9 says,

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.

Impress them on your children.

Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road,

when you lie down and when you get up.

Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  

Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

(Today’s reading was from Deuteronomy 4-7.)

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