“Anointed” and Hyssop

The #RethinkChurch Lenten Photo-A-Day prompt for today is “anointed.” In considering a photo to share, I will admit to having to dig into my photos for a while until I found something fitting.

Last summer I took this picture of a hyssop plant at the Cutler Botanical Garden outside of Binghamton. Hyssop was used for a lot of religious purposes and Psalm 51:7 says in the NRSV: “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” I personally would have preferred the verse be translated “cleaner” than snow, but generations of faithful people have connected the hyssop plant with religious cleansing

The hyssop plant was connected to the story of Exodus as hyssop branches were used to anoint the doorways of the children of Israel before the first passover. In Exodus 12, the hyssop plant was forever tied to at least one act of anointing.

Still, how do I tie this to our theme for the week? The hyssop plant has become connected with religious life for a long time. The role of hyssop in both religious and herbal realms led to the propagation and widespread popularity of this herb. To be hyssop is to be connected with both medicinal and religious purposes.

As believers in Christ, we are tied to the life of Christ. We are no less tied to the story of Christ than hyssop was tied to the story of God’s people. Why should we be surprised when we face challenges as a result of our faith? If they treated Christ poorly, why do we expect less?

I still don’t know about leaping for joy, but when I consider my life as a Christian, I understand that it will include challenges as well as blessings. Like cat grass draws felines and maple trees draw people who like syrup, being a hyssop means having a place in the hierarchy of life. Being a Christian comes with various challenges and difficulties. I don’t know if I am being clear, but I think we should at least understand that difficulties come with being followers of a Jesus who faced challenges.

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