Wednesday, June 08, 2011

::Five Sacrifices::

A word I have yet to warm up to. Blood. Fire. Grim bowing of the body.
Sacrifice. A word that confronts me as I march through Leviticus. It must be reckoned with.

"That religion which costs a man nothing is usually worth nothing."

A current of submission and sacrifice stirs inside me. Inside us all, who are housing Spirit. But how often do we wrestle our stiff, unyielding Selves aside to bow low to the dust? To give up the hardest things-- the things that make these mortal bodies tingle with pleasure? And then, should our bodies bend, how long do our hearts stay low too? Without the slow seeping-in of pride? Private self-ovations given for the outward cost. Bodies bent over smug smiles.

"Either you suffer temporarily and in a redemptive way, or [others are] going to suffer tragically, in a wasteful and destructive way."

Sacrifice. Temporary. Redemptive. . . A window opens onto the landscape of meaning. Jesus, the giver of eternity gave his perfect life-- and got it back. Along with every lost brother and sister his heart yearned for. The giving of his everything had an end and a reward: Life and lives gained.

Like him, and because of him, our sacrifices are the same: temporary and redemptive. The pain of the low-bend lasts for a time, but the posture holds because of the good and strong thing we are standing on, and the shining strands of purpose we see unfurling behind, before and beside us. Like a strong green shoot winding its way out of good soil, the things I rip free and hand over in this life will strip me back, even as I continue to grow, my roots dig deeper, and new green things sprout up beside me.

The Levitical Sacrifices are stunning portraits of bending. They are Five: Burnt. Grain. Peace. Sin. Guilt. Five names. Five needs addressed. Five gifts given. Slowly, I am unpacking them and studying them like Renoirs. Textures, techniques, meaning.

As I go I will share. And I pray I will bend ever lower as I go.