Sunday, April 20, 2008

No Ordinary Sacrament

Sacraments are ordinary things through which something extraordinary is offered. An ordinary bush ablaze with God's glory. Tablets of earthly stone engraved by a heavenly hand. The divine Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us.
— Ken Gire (Reflective Living)

God extends Himself through the people and experiences of my life — just as though they are sacraments. In those extraordinary moments, when the everyday begets the eternal, I see my Maker. And I know that I am looked after; I am loved.

Over the past few weeks, I found myself in the center of several such appointments. 

Surrounded by mountains at the edge of Lake Tahoe during a women's retreat, I sat at the feet of the One whose mercy knows no limits — at a time when mercy seemed something I'd misplaced. How good of the Father to remind me of his ways by offering the grand effect of the earth buckling under seismic stress.
Imagine the crackling, the groaning as the ground shook and shifted, thrusting itself through the crust of the earth in relief. Not pretty. Yet the results rise up, a resounding display of God's glory. Evidence that even the most extreme circumstances manifest his beauty — out of his mercy — in his time. Might it be the same for me? Might the Father, in his profound mercy, set in motion a rising up out of the seismic stresses of my life? A rising up to display his beauty? His glory?

It hurts. This shifting. The groaning deafens my ear toward the quiet whispers of my Savior's heart.

But as we share together the sacraments of communion — both with the elements representing His body and blood,  as well as with the community of friends He has gathered — the Word writes upon my heart His pleasure in me, His commitment to me. He extends Himself without measure. 

He offers to me His life. A revelation of my Everlasting Father, a picture of mercy, a fulfillment of grace, a gift of love. 

— Now THAT's no ordinary sacrament.

In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. . . .  So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. . . . From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.   From John 1 (NLT)