Rev. Newton Cowan

Rev. Newton Cowan, Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care

In the third chapter of Exodus, we read this exchange between God and Moses: “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”  Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”

This image of taking off our shoes because we are on holy ground is one that I have carried with me and think about often when I am in those thin places between heaven and earth and feel as though I am standing on holy ground. What about you?

Certainly, this place, this place of First Presbyterian, but there are others. Recently I had that sense at Camp Weaver. As we gathered, more than 250 of us, to have Sunday school and worship and break bread and have fun together. But specifically, it was the worship service. Sitting on the front row watching multiple generations signing the Scriptures, offering prayers, singing, it was a holy moment, and we were on holy ground knowing God was present with us. While there was much planning that took place, you all, the congregation, showing up made the day so very special.

Closer to home, just this past Wednesday, November 1, All Saints Day, we gathered, as Christians have for centuries to remember those who have gone before.  In the Memorial Columbarium, the sun was shining and the cold wind blowing, but some 35 of us should have taken off our shoes. For you see in the litany that was shared, we paused to lift the names up of those who had died. Some very recently and others many years ago. But from across the columbarium names were said out loud and from hearts, names of saints that have gone before us.

I remarked to Jill, following the service, that for me, it felt as if we were all one body in that space holding space on holy ground for all those we have lost.  Often clergy are offering services for you all the congregation, but this moment we shared in our collective loss of saints in our lives.  It was a holy moment, a thin place.

I hope you will take time to notice the holy moments in your own life. Times when perhaps you need to just take off your shoes.