Secularization is a big word used to describe a long-term trend in our culture. It refers to the simple fact that all sense of the Holy has been drained out of our existence. When everything and everyone becomes an object useful only for my enjoyment or my purchase, nothing is sacred or holy anymore. The only subject that matters is me because everything is about me. There is nothing bigger than me, beyond what I can consume or enjoy. Life becomes watered down to a simple hedonism – “Eat. Drink. Be merry (not happy or joyous). For tomorrow we die."
Why is it possible for all of humanity to become so committed to burning through and using up the whole creation that we refuse to see that we have soiled our own bed, mortgaged our future, and brought destruction on our children? One reason is that we have come to believe that all creation is simply “resources” for enjoyment, pleasure, and use instead of acknowledging what humans for centuries celebrated. Creation is a gift from God, a holy thing to be honored, cared for, and preserved.
Why is it that we can so easily seek to destroy others with our hateful speech and violent acts for simply being different? Because we have stopped seeing human beings as children of God, as no less entitled to be here than any other of the 7 billion people on the planet.
Why is it that we can make the “market” a reality that takes precedence over every other aspect of society, replacing justice, peace, and even faith, hope, love. We can be for peace if it does not cost us. We can be for justice if it doesn’t rile the stock market. We can have compassion on the poor only if it doesn’t diminish dividends.
Next week is the week we call “Holy.” In a calendar that is full of activities, commitments, things-to-do that keep the secular world rolling along, Christians are called to keep Holy time. We walk with one who brought holiness to everything and everyone he touched and encountered. We walk with one who did not live for his own sake, his own enjoyment, his own gain. We walk with one who walked the holy way and,
“who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death--
even death on a cross.
When the holy things of God are once again recognized, when habits of gratitude replace habits of greed, when the practice of compassion replaces the practice of consumption, when sacred things capture our imagination instead of the secular and selfish, the world can be holy again. The world can be whole again. The world can have hope, joy, love again. Holy Week gives us a glimpse of these things and beckons us to keep on the path for more than a week.
Pax Christi – Tim Olson, Lead Pastor