One of the great lies of our time and place is the idea that there exists a separation between sacred and secular, that faith should be private, that what happens in religion has no bearing on the “real world.”
We have decided it is acceptable for people to have faith as long as they keep it to themselves.
There’s no need, after all, to go crazy and foist your beliefs upon everyone else.
The very truth, however, that the physical body of man is now the temple of the Holy Spirit reveals this for the lie it is.
The whole man is now made the temple of God, and his whole life is from now on a liturgy. ~ Alexander Schmemann in For the Life of the World
It is through us that the temple of God is in the world.
Spiritual and material are not in opposition, but
each ounce of matter belongs to God and is to find in God its fulfillment. Each instant of time is God’s time and is to fulfill itself as God’s eternity. Nothing is ‘neutral.’
God reveals himself through the material and in Christ it all holds together.
When we assume there is no connection between the material world and the spiritual world, we live in agreement with our culture. We deem, as Schmemann writes, the world to be profane in the deepest sense of the word — incapable of any real communication with the divine or of any transformation.
Yet the material world is precisely the opposite of profane. It is sacred in the deepest sense of the word. The world was created as “the material for one all-embracing eucharist, and man was created as the priest of this cosmic sacrament.”
The sacraments (such as the eucharist/communion, baptism) do not transform something “profane,” that is, religiously void or neutral, into something “sacred.” Rather the sacraments reveal the true nature or destiny of some material item such as bread or wine or water.
The sacraments restore the material world to its proper function, revealing it as true, full, adequate. The sacraments cause all matter to “become again a means of communion with and knowledge of God.”
This is what the world was created to be, and this is why the idea of a separation between sacred and secular is so monstrous a lie.
When we build a wall around our faith, denying it any relevance to the world outside our churches, what is denied is quite simply “the continuity between ‘religion’ and ‘life,’ the very function of worship as the power of transformation, judgement, and change.”
We deny the world its ability to be a means of communion with and knowledge of God.
We deny God the power to transform the world through his people.
In truth, we deny ourselves our roles as rulers and priests, the twin roles we were given from the very beginning.
We as Jesus-followers, we the Church, must begin to think differently, to speak differently of our faith and the world.
We must stop walling up our faith and instead allow it to permeate every ounce and instant of our lives and, through us, of the world all around.
If we do, both we and our world will find in God our fulfillment.
Our worship will again become the power of transformation, causing our world to again become a means of communion with and knowledge of God.
It begins with us, God’s rulers and priests in this world.
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Art credits: photographs of the cathedral, light through the tree limbs, and tulips are by Kirk Sewell; all other photographs are my own, copyright Made Sacred 2021