web analytics

Tag Archive | "holy"

Where nothing Is sacred


 

Ronnie McBrayer

Ronnie McBrayer

By Ronnie McBrayer

 

 

The words “holy” and “sacred” are used interchangeably. But, I think there is a huge difference between the two. Sacred comes from the Latin, “sacrum.” You might recognize that “sacrum” is also the name of the bones in your pelvis. The ancient Romans called this part of the body “sacred.” It is from where life springs. Thus, the sacred was anything that had to be protected.

That is an excellent picture of how we employ sacredness. People create sacred rituals that draw lines, build barriers, and protect and secure space and turf. We feel we have to keep everything that is perceived as a threat on the outside.

During one of my pastorates, we moved from a shabby little storefront building to a beautiful, magnificent sanctuary. It was an incredible upgrade with pews, a baptistery, a steeple, and other sacred things. We had been picking up children on our little church bus and bringing them to worship. When we moved to our new building we kept picking up these children, but I knew it would not last.

During our first week of Vacation Bible School in the new building one of the church mothers became enraged when a group of “those dirty bus kids” ran their hands down the newly painted wall as they walked to class. A campaign began immediately to stop the bus ministry. There would be no place or space for such children.

The sacred is the ritualistic dividing behavior of people; but the holy is something different. The holy is something that is “whole” or “healthy.” Holiness is something that cannot be divided. It is something that is complete, unbroken, and intact.

Thus, holiness is not something defined by lines of segregation or by different shades of acceptance. It is defined by openness and welcome. The holy doesn’t alienate, it invites. The holy doesn’t separate, it welcomes. The holy doesn’t divide, it embraces.

Whereas what is sacred is a small, restricted space that must be sheltered and guarded, the old Norse word for “holy” means “a large living room,” where people are made to feel very much at home. I pray that God makes us holy: Whole, healthy, welcoming people! But I also pray that he never allow us to become a sacred people, for when we lose our ability to be hospitable, inviting the outsider in, we have lost our unique witness in the world.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, speaker, and author of multiple books. You can read more and receive regular e-columns in your inbox at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.

 

Posted in Keeping the FaithComments Off

Get Humble, get holy


Ronnie McBrayer

Ronnie McBrayer

By Ronnie McBrayer

In the coming days the world’s two billion Christians will begin celebrating Holy Week. Not to be missed in this week of activity is Maundy Thursday. “Maundy” comes from the Latin word mandatum, meaning “commandment.” On Jesus’ last night before his crucifixion, he gathered his disciples and gave them the commandment to love and serve one another. Then he showed them how.

Jesus rolled up his sleeves, threw a towel over his shoulder, and with a basin of water, squatted down to wash the filthy feet of his disciples. Yes, God stooped. The Christ crawled. The Master became the servant. Jesus took the position of a slave and honored those who had not the slightest indication of how holy his act was.

Walter Brueggemann describes this scene: “To kneel in the presence of another is to be totally vulnerable, because you are in an excellent posture to have your face or your groin kicked in. Our Lord made himself vulnerable precisely in that way! He knelt, not in humility or in fear, but in strength and confidence, opening himself to others.”

In the midst of this week of festivities, I wonder if we Christians might pause to consider vulnerability as a holy exercise. See, Jesus never maintained feelings of superiority over others; he eagerly gave up his rights and privileges. Jesus didn’t defend himself with angry tirades or theological manifestos; he taught – and manifested – vulnerable love.

Jesus’ instruction on Maundy Thursday was not a how-to lecture on proving how “right” his followers were; it was a demonstration course for how to live. Thus, the Christian means and method of confrontation is not condemnation, but naked service.

A follower of Jesus testifies to and celebrates the truth he has come to know, but knows in equal measure that the truth has been washed through and through with a foot wash basin. The power of the disciple of Christ is a power wielded, not by force or fist, but by a holy hand towel.

He who would be like Jesus does not lord over others. He gets down on the ground, down on his face, down in the dust, the mire, and the mud. He makes himself completely and totally exposed. Even if those whom he serves kick him in the face; even if they stone him to death; even if they crucify him on a cross: There is no other way.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, speaker, and author of multiple books. You can read more and receive regular e-columns in your inbox at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.

 

Posted in Keeping the FaithComments Off