Monday, March 2, 2009

The Sacred is Still Sacred

There was a time when the things declared by God to be sacred were lethal. There was a time when those things were deadly for sinners like you and me. Don’t believe me? Just ask Uzzah (2 Samuel 6) who reached out to steady the Ark of the Covenant, or Isaiah (Isaiah 6) who beheld the Almighty while serving in the temple and exclaimed “Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips”. It used to be when sinners encountered the sacred they knew their limits and were terrified, as the Israelites were when they were camped around Sinai (Exodus 19:6).

But then came Jesus. The Sacred One came to suffer for the sin that used to make those encounters with God so deadly. He assumed into himself the punishment and death that we ought to endure when we enter into the Presence of the Holy. But do we die? Hardly! Instead the Holy One places his own body and blood into our mouths to eat and to drink! Imagine the carnage that would have erupted in a pre-incarnation communion service! Imagine the blessing that is ours because God makes us into a holy nation through the Communion of Saints!

These days people will say that because the curtain was torn in the temple the dividing line between the sacred and the common has been erased. These days people will assume that this means that nothing is sacred, that nothing should be sacred. How sad! Far from erasing the sacred, God in his loving kindness has invited us in - to take part in the sacred. God has opened heaven so that we could join him in the Eternal Feast.

Why is it that we feel so inclined to cheapen this magnificent gift? Instead of entering heaven with fear and trembling we load up the Holy of Holies with all the equipment for a rock concert. Instead of seeing it as first and foremost that we will be met by the “Light of Light descending from the Realms of Endless Day” we capitulate to a culture that has thrown away any notion of the sacred, that distorts God’s gifts into a patriarchal hierarchy that needs to be torn down and deconstructed

What God has made to be sacred remains sacred! Let’s remember what has changed. The sacred hasn’t stopped being sacred – God has simply done away with the need for a fence that keeps us out!


  1. Very very true. I guess it goes with the whole "what makes me feel good is how I roll" mindset. Any thoughts on how we can turn the tide on getting back to things being sacred?

  2. That's a great question. Acknowledgment of the sacred and of God's holiness implies that you and I are not holy, that it is something we are without and that we are ourselves unworthy to be where God is. People want to be told they are okay simply being who they are so the two don't fit together. In terms of what to do about it, I suppose there are lots of things that could be done. What I have found helpful in this is a study of the sacred and of God's holiness beginning in the Old Testament. The book of Leviticus is especially helpful in that through the temple rites and sacrifices God began to invite his people to share in the sacred and to share in his holiness. There is much to be gained through a thorough study of a biblical theology of holiness.