During this season of Lent, our theme is Word. Water. Wine. Bread. It is drawn from one of our core beliefs: God's love is poured out when God's people gather around Word, water, wine and bread. We dare to believe that when the people of God gather these simple, ordinary things become a means of receiving God’s grace.
These every-day-things bring us into the very presence of God. Words spoken, read, prayed, and sung are not just words, but God’s own Word spoken to us. In our worship, water is more than wet, it bears the grace of God washing us, cleansing us, and ushering us from death to life. Wine and bread are not just common food and drink, but the body and blood of Christ which fills us with his love and gives us hope for a feast to come when death, tears, and suffering will be banished from life.
In our worship, Word, water, wine and bread are sacred things that bear God’s grace. In our world, our secular world, sacred things do not hold much value. Sacred things do not really exist at all. One doesn’t need to have a Ph.D. or be a master sociologist to know this is true. I was a very young boy in 1966 when Time Magazine declared, “God is Dead.” I was schooled to be suspicious of anything that could not be explained, proven, or was mysterious in any way. In ways too numerous to count, the world has made less and less space for the sacred. That is why we chose this theme this year. We hope to reclaim just a little of the ground ceded to the secular by celebrating the sacred.
When we walk into the sanctuary for worship do we expect to meet God? Do we anticipate encountering mysteries beyond our explanation? Are we taken up into the sacred stories depicted in every stained-glass window? When we stand before the bread and wine as it is lifted up, do we see Christ?
Unfortunately, we often can’t even manage to put our phones away or lay aside concerns over the next event in our calendar when we take our seats in the sanctuary. We hear words read and spoken, but do not have the concentration needed to really hear. We receive the blood and body of Christ but can only think about whether we like the wine or how the wafer tastes. These are the ways that the sacred has been eroded, expelled, and exorcised from our lives.
Our theme this Lent is an effort to recover, or – dare I say – resurrect the sacred aspects of our worship life. Our hope is to awaken to the presence of God that stares us in the face when we gather in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Our belief, as we have stated publicly, is that worship is not ordinary or mundane, but that “God's love is poured out when God's people gather around Word, water, wine and bread.”
If we are to reconnect with the faith that makes us sure that life is sacred, every living thing is sacred, love is divine, and God is not dead, but alive and well, our restoration will begin in worship. If we can learn again that Word, water, wine and bread are sacred, then perhaps all other things can be reclaimed as sacred too.
Tim Olson – Lead Pastor