Holy Ground by Rev. Dr. Erin Swenson-Reinhold

“Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” – Joshua 5:15

We are one of those families that does our best to remove our shoes when we enter our home; however, this means I’m always tripping over a pile of shoes. In my attempt to keep order, I’ve tried hard to implement the “one pair per person rule” for the front door and the “keep your shoes on your own shelf” at the back. When all five of us are home, shoes seem to multiply at a rate that is almost incomprehensible. Shoes are simply everywhere.

In the passage above, Joshua was scouting the land near Jericho when the commander of the Lord’s army approached him. The Israelites had executed an impossible crossing of the Jordan River, and the Canaanites were paralyzed with fear. It had been a long 40 years, and Joshua was tasked with leading the Israelites into the Promised Land. I wonder if God knew Joshua needed some encouragement to see God’s blessing and God’s presence in their lives. I wonder if God knew Joshua needed food for his soul so he could care for the people God called him to lead. I wonder if God knew Joshua needed reminding that God was present even in the most difficult circumstances and all ground was holy ground.

The last six months have been filled with crisis after crisis, and it does not seem life is going to change anytime soon. We’ve been asked to pivot and adjust at a rate that is overwhelming and mind-boggling, and most of us are tired and worn as the ordering of our lives has been upended. Many gave up vacations, graduations, and weddings, and this fall has asked families to forgo our ideas and expectations of how our children should engage their schooling. For many of us, our lives may even reflect an unruly and unmanageable pile of shoes.

Yet, during this time, I’m reminded of the sacredness of the ground we tread. I’m grateful for the disruption of my daughter’s “lunch and movement” hour to my overpacked schedule. I’m thankful for the holy moments of homemade meals, walks around the block, and opportunities to play games with my family. I’m humbled by the reminder we need to make space to laugh more, play more, and enjoy the gifts of God and each other.

As I reflect on the last few months, I’m thankful for the ways we’ve learned to adapt, adjust, and accept being uncomfortable not knowing what the future will hold but trusting God and each other. I’m grateful we’ve begun to see the holy in the piles of shoes and the sacred in our time together.

As we circle around the start of a new school year, I recognize the path will be bumpy and the piles of shoes will grow unruly. Yet like Joshua, I’ll do my best to lower my head in reverence as I praise God for the holy ground that I’ve been called to love and serve and step faithfully into the unknown trusting and residing in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Peace and Blessings –

Pastor Erin

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