What Makes It So Sacred Anyway?


Scripture. (God to Moses) “Take off your sandels you are on holy ground.”

Lately I have been hearing, and have said it myself: we, as a society have lost our sense of sacred. We no longer respect the old rituals, ideas, or places. Perhaps we need to quit lamenting and take a new look at why things, places, rituals and ideas were ever sacred.

Oddly enough, an idea behind a Syfy Network program called Warehouse 13 comes to mind. They dealt with artifacts that had taken on qualities of the people who owned them, or the events they were part of. Many times they were normal objects that had become “magical” because of the properties they had absorbed. It was a odd show, but fun and someties spoke the struggle between good and evil in the world. Pure fantasy.

On a more serious level, I love to go the an empty sanctuary and play the piano. I grew up in a pastoral family, and married a pastor. I have spent many hours in sanctuaries. I have met God many times in such places. It means something to me to be in the place where I come away and put myself into an attitude and position to open myself up and pay attention to what God is trying to get through to me. To many people that is a sacred place.  So, it is the activity that takes place there that makes it holy or sacred.

Rituals are sacred only if we bring understanding of what they mean with us as we partake in the ritual. We scoff and throw them aside in our contemorary society beccause we no longer use them as tools to open our hearts and minds to God. We have forgotten why they became sacred: because we met God when said the words, sang the songs, and took part in the actions.  

In Moses’ case, why did the ground he was walking on become holy ground? Because God had been there in the burning bush.

In our contemporary society, we must acknowledge the sacred will be different things for each of us. In our pop concert and theater world, many of us don’t really understand the sanctuary. It’s just like other gathering hall.  Ritual has become just something to do, not understood or meaningful. Things have lost sacred meanings.

Yet people still meet God.

New things take on sacredness as we associate activities and places with the times we open ourselves to God’s voice. In honor of the past, we recapture that which has helped us in the past, but we also allow new things and places and things to become sacred.

If we don’t allow this process, we are short cutting our humanity. We need the shortcuts and symbols. On the other hand, if we begin to place more emphasis on the doing and saying certain things than we do the reason we began doing them, we also lose their usefulness. 

Things became sacred because God was present. We met God, and these things help us recreate the times of meeting God. And we want to take off our shoes and honor the sacred ground.

So I pray: God help us recapture and not be afraid of the concept of  the sacred places and attitudes.

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