What is sacred?
First of all, I can't believe I missed it, but November 29 was the blog's 4 year blogiversary. Every year I write a special post of blog musings on that day, but this year I missed it. Oh, well. Just a few facts. This is post #1588. Wow. I distinctly remember hitting post #300; now I'm at five times that number. The blog has had 45,097 hits since I started keeping track, sometime in 2006. In the past 500 hits, there have been visitors from Japan, Canada, Portugal, India, but with the majority from the United States. It's always fun to look at the visitor map and check those kinds of things out.
Anyway, Happy 4th blogiversary to Sandpiper's Thoughts.
My thoughts this morning were still gnawing on the idea of worship. When I think about a worship service, I see many elements which could be considered either sacred or secular. As I was thinking about it, I can see how almost any element, depending on intention and upon God's intervention, could be sacred or secular.
- Offering of Money -- Not to be too drastic in my comparison, but consider attendance at a strip club. Money is offered, tucked into g-strings or thrown upon the stage. Secular. When Bishop Bickerton, at the 2007 Youth Gathering, talked about Nothing but Nets, the youth started throwing $10 bills on the stage to buy nets. Over $25,000 was raised. It felt holy. When money is offered in worship, it is a sacred act, inspired by God, and an answer to a divine call upon the worshiper. God transforms the offering.
- Speaking -- When a politician gives a speech, he or she does so to inspire an action -- a vote, a donation, or something similar. It's not sacred. When a minister, who has conferenced with God throughout preparation and offers the sermon with the intention of it being worship, preaches, it becomes an act of worship. God transforms the offering.
- Singing -- The rock star, standing in the middle of a field, singing the Star Spangled banner before the Super Bowl is singing, but is not worshiping. When the choir member offers his or her gifts to God through an anthem, it becomes worship. It isn't the song or the action; it is worship because it is offered to God and because God transforms the offering.
- Laughing -- At the Comedy Club, when the comedian tells a joke that you wouldn't tell your mother, and the crowd laughs, its laughter, but it's not holy. When a minister includes a joke in a sermon, and when it is done to create a relationship with the congregation, or to further illustrate God's word, the laughter of the congregation becomes something sacred. It is joyful, and it is a gift of God. God transforms the offering.
- Standing -- There is nothing about standing that makes it either secular or sacred. Do it on a street corner, waiting for a bus, then it's just -- well -- waiting on a bus. Do it during a worship service, as an offering of praise to God, and it becomes worship, because God transforms the offering.
- Conversation -- When you whisper to the kid sitting next to you in class in order to cheat on a test, it's not holy. When you whisper to God, in prayer, it becomes sacred. God transforms the offering.
It isn't the action -- it's the intention of the one offering the action and the work of God that makes it worship.
Image: Holly; taken prior to our board meeting at the John XXIII Retreat Center.