I took this picture around noon today, as I was walking to my car after being inside that church. I took it because the leaves are getting to be really pretty, and I liked the way the artistic elements in the scene fit together.
But the sermon was still rattling around in my mind, and the church in the foreground with our state capitol building in the background brought that sermon into focus. One of the prayers assigned for this particular Sunday, the 18th After Pentecost, begins like this: “Moses consecrated an altar to the Lord….in the sight of the children of Israel.”
That’s one of those “throwaway” verses; you almost blip right over it because, yeah, yeah, I know what it means, I know what’s going on here, let’s get on with some action…. Well, wisely, the sermon was made to build on these words, making us all pause and realize what was being said.
To consecrate something means to take it out of the secular world and use it for sacred purposes. With words of blessing and ritual and vows and whatever else we humans can do to show God we are serious about something, the object, whether it be altar or vessel or vestment, is now to be used for things of God.
Well, that’s the church building part of the photo, here’s where the capitol building comes in:
St. Paul tells us all believers in Jesus Christ are “saints,” that is, consecrated to God. People can be consecrated and used, too, to bless this world, to do God’s good work in this world, to bring God’s presence into this world, to care for the world — and to govern it well according to just principles of civics and social interaction.
That’s the ideal.
Have we given up on building a better world? Does it seem sometimes that there’s nothing we can do to substantially improve our own nation? Do we even know where to start?
Seems to me that the “artistic elements” in the photo I took today suggest that we have patterns and guidelines to follow. We have history books and biographies to tell us what was in the minds of the Founders of our country and what they meant when writing our nation’s Constitution that guided us into stability and greatness. We have religion available to us to guide us into a relationship with God. We’ve got the world of nature that God created to be our examples of beauty and harmony and to lift us up out of ourselves.
I begin the pity those that Moses didn’t consecrate. They seem to be left out of this wonderful work.