I understood something today. I understood it suddenly and in a new way.
It was around how the Ancient Isrealites were expected to do these sacrifices. Thier were pretty strict expectations about what animals would be sacrificed when. And even more strict expectations about the conditions of these animals. They were supposed to sacrifice the best.
We are freed of this expectation.
But today, in church, I got it.
Church was awesome. I don’t mean awesome in the 80′s surfer-sense of the word. It wasn’t entirely pleasant. It was, at times, so hard that I had to leave the sanctuary. When I say that church was awesome, I mean that it quite literally inspired a sense of awe. I suppose that this is one of the things church was supposed to do.
The gifted folks involved with the service are partly responsible for this experience. They did a great– even exceptional– job. But there have been other days when they were all doing an equally excellent job. And yet, many of those times, it did not effect me.
There is some truth in talking about how the spirit moves where it wills. Sometimes God makes himself known.
This is also a cop-out and a ducking of responsibility. They say that we don’t have any control over where and when God shows up. The problem is that this implies that God isn’t omnipresent. It implies that there are some places where God is not.
What I am trying to say is that God is fully present in every service. The thing that comes and goes is our own perception of him.
Today, what I realized, is that one of the sacrifices’ values is that they smashed home, they made concrete a reality that it’s easy to lose track of.
That reality is that whatever we bring to a worship service is what we are going to get out of it.
Today I brought… a lot to the service. It wouldn’t be wrong to call it baggage. It wasn’t all kinds of warm fluffiness. It was a whole dizzying array of conflicting emotions. Pain, and anger, and hurt… Not just at life in general, but pain and anger and hurt directed right at God. Those were all there.
God was happy to take it.
It wasn’t a sacrifice worthy of him. Even though there are all these descriptions about the sacrifice-victim be perfect and unblemished, I realized today, that being worthy was never the point at all.
The point is that whatever we bring to God is the material that God will work with. He does his divine alchemy on what we bring. He turns it into something else, something better. Maybe he even enhances it, like Jesus beginning with the boy’s lunch and feeding thousands. Despite the enhancements, there, though, the thing is that Jesus, did after all begin with boy’s lunch.
I could have shown up with nothing today. God quite literally knows I have before. Today I didn’t show up at the service empty handed. And so… I didn’t leave empty handed, either.