Sacred Soil

Sacred Space
December 16, 2012, 10:15 am
Filed under: Sermons

December 16, 2012
Sermon at the Hanging of the Greens

Zephaniah 3:14–20
Isaiah 12:2–6
Philippians 4:4–7
Luke 3:7–18

We call this sanctuary sacred space. It is a holy place, set aside and set apart. It is in this place that we celebrate new life in baptism, where we celebrate the gift of marriage, where we mourn our dead. This is the place we mark the rites of passage, meeting God in a shared moment, resting our hopes in something far larger than ourselves.

Since the events of Friday, I know that it has seemed to some of us that what was once sacred is now profane. That innocence and holiness have lost their meaning. The questions loom large—aching with fear and emptiness. For some, it seems there is no place that feels truly safe, truly sacred.

I cannot give you answers. And to tell you the truth, I am wary of anyone that will try. For each question on our hearts cradles another question, and another. We will never be done asking why. We cannot.

But here is what I do know. I know that our God took on flesh and dwelt amongst us. I know that our God came into this world, with the same tender skin, the same fragile heart, the same aching need as each of us in this room. I know that our God entered into our own suffering, and understood. Indeed, this is our God, crucified on a cross, hung up on a tree to die under such cruelty and pain.

This, I think, is what makes a thing sacred. Not safety, not reassurance. God’s own flesh—this is what connects us to God. The entering of God into our own suffering, into our own wounds. Our God, comes to us in our grief and confusion, loving us, even when we least deserve it. Even when our hearts cannot bear it. Even when all we can desire is revenge and retribution.

In this sacred space we are reminded of this Christ crucified. This Christ who bears the weight of all our brokenness. And we are reminded of Christ risen. Christ who brings us to new life. These waters pour out, inviting us, freeing us, to live with the conviction that God will bring all things together for good. That God will raise us again.

So, here in this sanctuary this morning, in this sacred space, we will work together to prepare ourselves for Christmas, to continue in our Advent journey to make room in our hearts and our lives for the Christ child—the one who comes into the world to bear all our sins. The one who raises us to new life.

Perhaps it is too soon. Perhaps it seems impossible. We cannot will ourselves to sacred moments or places. Indeed, no act of our own will bring God near. For God is already near. It is in these acts that we move toward opening ourselves to an encounter with God, an encounter with the sacred that is already here.

So I am asking you will you help us adorn this place, this sacred place, with the signs and hopes of joy in the promise of new life? Will you take an ornament and place it on the tree as a symbol of Christ dwelling here. Will you light a candle in these windows as signs of God’s light pressing against the darkness that surrounds us? Will you claim what is sacred and holy, holding it near and close, as heartbreak and hopelessness threaten? We do this on this morning as a sign that nothing can ever separate us from the love of God in Christ. Nothing.

Near you, a worship committee member will guide you through helping us decorate the sanctuary. There is much work to be done, and we will rejoice in the chaos of this cacophony. We have ornaments to unwrap, a tree to decorate, candles to place, flowers to arrange. Hearts to heal. Resurrection to proclaim.

So let us begin, our hearts heavy and full. Let us find sacred space once again. Meeting our God together in this place.

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