As always, we now circle back to where we started - to something sacred. We started this week by talking about how the world will use anything it can get its hands on to further its own agenda - marked by the way that the somber and once-sacred anniversary of the 9/11 attacks was twisted to become a commentary (an ill-crafted commentary) on our current response to the pandemic. The world decided it was okay to deepen the wound of this remembrance by diminishing the true nature of the day in order to push another narrative. To the world, this once-sacred day is no longer sacred.
And we saw how, then, the words that we sometimes use are not actually the words that we want to talk about. We don't mean them in the way that we say them, although we imply that we do. Words like "unity," when what we really mean is "uniformity." And we're just hoping the world is emotional enough about everything right now that they don't notice. We hope that everyone is so exhausted from all the fighting that even the hint of something that might pass as unity becomes a breath of fresh air.
But then, we talked about what it means to have a "new" normal, what it means that things change and how much we are willing to let them change. We know that change is inevitable, but that doesn't mean we should just accept it wherever it tries to squeeze into our experience; there are some things worth fighting for. And just a breath away from that, we saw how this narrative is pushing into the church - into the very heart of who we are as a people of God - and how, all of a sudden, these conversations that seem so small and maybe even inconsequential in the grand scheme of things are actually being used as introductions to things that deeply, deeply matter - and again, the world is hoping that we won't notice the transition.
When it comes to the church, though, and to who we are as a people of God, we start to understand the importance of the conversation. And we start to see clearly how it is that we have to respond.
We have to make things sacred again.
We have to set some things apart in this world and tell our culture that these things are non-negotiable. They're untouchable. There is no circumstance that would convince us to put them back on the table as bargaining chips. We have to carve out little recesses of the sacred life and declare them off-limits to any conversation that culture wants to have. These things have got to be non-starters.
And yes, we're talking about the things of the church, but we're not just talking about the things of the church. We're not just talking about our Sunday mornings and our meetings together, although these things, too, must be set apart as sacred. We're talking about the fundamental depths of holy human experience - the most holy of all human experiences - even those that aren't directly related to the church.
We have to create sacred space for humans to be human again. Because, as we've seen, this is where the conversation always seems to start. With a moment we should have set aside for grief, but we don't allow grieving any more. With a space we ought to set aside for love that is now filled with argument and disagreement. With a connection that ought to be made in genuine care but is now questioned because of a difference of opinion. With a unity that comes, as we said a few days ago, with all of us spreading out of one heart in a thousand different directions according to our own gifting and passion and purpose but has somehow devolved into an aggressive uniformity. We have to start by telling the world to lets its beings be human, even if just for a breath, and then to fight for what that means not just for our flesh, but for our souls.
There are things in this world that are sacred, and the last year and a half have called into question so many of them. The world has shown that it doesn't care any more, that it no longer concerns itself with what ought to be sacred.
Which is why we, as a people of God, must.
There are things in this world that are sacred, and it doesn't matter what else is going on - these things are off the table. Period.