Exodus 29-30; Romans 2; Psalm 72
‘They themselves shall eat the food by which atonement is made, to ordain and consecrate them, but no one else shall eat of them, because they are holy’
All of the gospel and thus all of the life of the church is to be found in all of scripture – sometimes this is hidden from us, sometimes it comes to the surface.
We may well have read these verses from Exodus with great difficulty – so much blood. And yet perhaps we miss something, something which surrounds us. The Jewish prohibition against eating blood, for ‘the life is in the blood’ – the sacredness of life. This consecration required Blood, it required the All. It was truly sacrifice.
It seems most perverse that in an age when there is little if any sense of the Holy, the Sacred we are surrounded by such sacrifice and yet squirm with embarrassment over such supposedly primitive texts. When thousands upon thousands of lives are sacrificed on altars we have established in war – forgetting the many millions sacrificed upon the altar of the Economy, in our ‘advanced civilisation’ [how many of us have any sense at all especially those of us affluent enough to be able to afford the technology to read this post, of the many lives that are sacrificed to give us this luxury – not that of an illusory political freedom, one of our ‘high ideals’, but our Consumer freedom to have what we want when we want it without restraint]
The atoning sacrifice recognises the seriousness of Life, the costliness of ‘atonement’ of reconciliation – something which most of us have little sense of, never having troubled ourselves to be reconciled to our enemies. It is only by giving up our lives that we discover Life. There is no reconciliation without the laying down of life and this is revealed to us graphically in these sanguinary texts.
but also there is a warning – especially one for the church in terms of what we are doing Sunday by Sunday. There are many who speak of the priesthood of all believers – and rightly so – but few who read these texts as the elucidation of that term.
The early church knew the Holy – the Eucharist was behind closed doors – only for the priesthood of believers. Dietrich Bonhoeffer in modern times coined the term ‘Cheap Grace’. Is our approach, indeed perhaps even our carelessness with the sacramental life of the church an example of this? Are we in our Church Life, in our attempts to ‘make worship accessible’, peddling cheap grace?
Actually we have no business trying to make the life of the Church accessible. Christ is the door, he is the one who makes the way. We do not enter the life of faith by any door made by human hands.
Jesus warns us not to cast our pearls before swine or they will trample on them and turn on you and maul you.
Is it perhaps a cause of our current malaise, that even we in the church have lost our sense of the Holy?
Perhaps if the people of God turned and recaptured that sense, the world may wake up to what it is doing.