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Musing on ‘hyssop’…

Hyssop is a flowering plant. Its bitter minty leaves are used in herbal medicines; hyssop oil is used as a flavouring in cooking and a fragrance in soaps and cosmetics…

In Exodus 12 Moses and the Israelites are ready to leave Egypt… The Passover lamb is killed; its blood is collected and applied to their doorposts using hyssop as a paintbrush so that the angel of death can pass over them.

In ceremonial cleansings of Leviticus 14… A bird’s blood, applied by hyssop, was used to cleanse a person recently healed from a skin disease like leprosy or to purify a house that had previously contained mould or mildew.

King David mentions hyssop in Psalm 51: ‘Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.’ He’s not referring to physical or ceremonial cleansing; he’s asking his God for spiritual cleansing.

At Jesus’ crucifixion in John 19 the Roman soldiers offered Jesus a drink of wine vinegar on a sponge at the end of a stalk of hyssop…

Hyssop… common themes of ‘freedom’, ‘application’ and ‘cleansing’…

Comedian and celebrity Russell Brand has successfully turned his life round from a life of addictions through the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 step programme.

In Step 9, as part of his recovery, he makes amends to all people he has harmed and wronged. He describes how difficult this is, but how he felt after ‘making amends’:

‘It is as if somehow something has been evoked, some hidden principle. Each time I have done it I have felt a subtle awe and unbidden tearfulness. I have felt humbled. I have felt the grace that occurs when you decide to put aside your own way of doing things and surrender to another way.’

Brand may not be a Christian, but he has discovered something of freedom, application and cleansing; the hyssop way.

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