I grew up in a small Episcopal church just east of Richmond, Virginia, in Varina, the church, Varina Episcopal. I have the most wonderful memories there, bowing in reverence as the cross was marched down the center isle to hymn, the bells in the tower being rung by a rope that hung enticingly low to every child, the Apostle’s Creed, the Doxology, organs and operatic sounding voices, and of course, the fellowship hall where sausage balls and other delightfully southern concoctions entertained our palettes.
But my most coveted memory is communion. As children, Mr. Edleton, the rector of our parish, would place his hand on our heads and speak a blessing over our lives. I believe in the power of a blessing spoken in faith over another; may we all give generously of the blessings we are empowered to bestow this side of eternity. I also remember seeing Mr. Edleton being accompanied by another church leader, often my father, consuming the remainder of the wafers and wine. Because they had been consecrated, set aside for a sacred purpose, simply discarding them was profane. Consecrated, sacred, holy, precious.
Would you be willing to ask God some questions with me this day? Am I discarding prayers that I should have offered? Am I throwing away praise that I withheld? Am I throwing away time that I should have consumed in Scripture? Have I directed resources that were destined for generosity? Work that should have been rest, solitude that should have been community, silence that should have been witness, reluctance that should have been intentionality…
The Gospel is “good news” ultimately because eternal life is within reach of everyone who has breath and is willing to be embraced by Jesus’ offer of forgiveness and pledge their lives in devotion to Him. And in His grasp, we are held by the hands of many heavenly sentiments, ones that superficially appear contrasting from the perspective of humanity but in God’s infinite wisdom, they are always commendatory of one another. Grace without judgment is permissiveness. Liberty without boundaries is avarice. Love without devotion is cathartic. Accessibility without sacredness is common. Prayer, worship, Scripture, gathering, reaching…a sampling of what we at our church call Pathways (www.thecitylifechurch.com) are accessible to everyone who is a devoted follower of Christ, but may we never forget the sacredness they hold, may we never let their ease of reach diminish their holiness, their availability defame their consecration.
If I close my eyes, I am a child. I am sitting in a wooden pew with a velvet covered kneeler at my feet. Up the stepped platform, across the expanse that separates the two choir lofts, one on the left and the other on the right, filled with a robed choral, behind a railing accompanied by a padded step where we had just knelt, where I had been blessed, I see two men standing, backs to us, facing an enormous cross hanging above the altar, reflecting the light that pours in upon it…they are eating the wafers, drinking the wine…we are silent.
Recapture the sacredness waiting for you in every day.