Monday, March 05, 2012

The World as Sacrament

In that day 'Holiness to the Lord' shall be engraved on the bells of the horses. The pots in the Lord's house shall be like the bowls before the altars. Yes, every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be holiness to the Lord of hosts. Everyone who sacrifices shall come and take them and cook in them. In that day there shall no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the Lord. -- Zechariah 14:20-21

Years ago, when I was an undergrad, this passage captivated me. I remember giving a "devotional" in an airport, stuck between the United States and Europe, about how God wanted the whole world to be holy, not the whole world to be "secular." This passage still captivates me, and for the same reasons. It took a long road, but I finally returned to this passage via the Incarnation. God has made the world holy, has made the world a sacrament of communion with Him for us, through the assumption of fleshly existence by the Son.

Virginity is holy; for his mother was a virgin.
Married life is holy; for his mother was betrothed when she was chosen to bear God.
Singleness is holy; for he practiced celibacy.
The womb is holy; for this is how the Son of God is presented to the world.
Water, all waters, is holy; for he was baptized in the Jordan.
Air is holy; for he breathed upon his disciples and apostles and gave them the holy Spirit.
Trees are holy; for he was hanged on a tree for our justification.
Graves are holy; for he was laid in a virgin tomb and was raised to Life.

The Incarnation continues to be a stumbling to Gnosticism, whatever form it takes. This does not mean, though, that everything is self-evidently holy. The Spirit must open our eyes and we must guard them -- through being connected to that Spirit, that Son, that Father in prayer and adoration. As soon as we lose that very real connection, as soon as we make the Eucharist (what is the proper response to God making all things a sacrament but thankfulness?) merely symbolic, as soon as we show beauty the door, as soon as music becomes about emotion, as soon as worship becomes about fear of making a misstep, our eyes cloud over. We reenter, or attempt to reenter, that Death from which we were delivered in faith and baptism.

The whole world is holy, the whole world is Spiritual, the whole world is baptized into Christ's death, for his death is the death of the world's Life, and the whole world will be raised as we are raised (Romans 8). Lord, give us eyes to see and hearts to believe.

This Spirituality is not the same thing as the esoteric and nonsensical division between the "sacred" and the "profane." Instead it is the affirmation that all creation -- all corporeality and incorporeality -- is created good by God, yet exists in a state of fallennes and corruption. It cannot be affirmed as it currently stands, but must go through the death of Jesus Christ -- which he willingly undergoes for the sake of the world -- and be raised in newness of his Life. Mankind, though, is the vanguard. Our union with him is the restoration of all things.