Monthly Archives: April 2014

Of Bob Carr & Blood Sacrifices!

This week on Q&A when asked about the relevance of Easter Bob Carr made this insightful comment:

“The words of the sermon on the mount do resonate, must resonate. It is a very radical message. It’s a challenge to all of us about how we live our lives. The thing that puzzles me about Easter is why the sacrifice was required. Sacrifice there is a lot of pre-echoes. That’s sacrifice has a lot of – that blood sacrifice has a lot of pre-echoes in the Hebrew scriptures, but why it required? No preacher has ever explained to me why the death of Jesus had to happen, why it was mandated, why any message from God to man had to happen by that route.”

It is a great question, as we live in these days celebrating after the resurrection, and I can’t help but empathize with the conundrum, “why any message from God to man had to happen from that route.”  It is this puzzle that has set me in pursuit of deeper more cogent answers than God’s wrath had to be satisfied.

Recently, I have been reading Stricken by God and was particularly struck by the work of James Alison who suggests, “All sacrificial systems are substitutionary; but what we have with Jesus is an exact inversion of the sacrificial system: he goes backward and occupies the space so as to make it clear that this is simply murder.  And it needn’t be.” (p.173)

In answer to Carr’s question (and my own), I wonder if the answer lies in this idea that it was not God who demanded this route of sacrifice but we as human beings who determined the route on which we would take God.  God’s response to the barbarity of sacrifice is not vengeance or retribution but a submission to the violence of the world to demonstrate that violence is not the last word.

What God does in response to the events of the cross is simply astounding: the risen Jesus comes among his followers, just as the High Priest did on the Day of Atonement, and declared “Peace be with you.”

“Peace be with you” who would betray, deny, destroy and doubt me.

“Peace be with you” who would hide away and huddle in fear.

“Peace be with you” for I am your God I have loved you with and everlasting love.

God’s desire is not for blood sacrifice but for loving relationship.

A good question Bob Carr and one which is fundamental to our confused and convoluted faith.

I came to pray

Yesterday, a day like any other day, the bell of my church office rang.  Opening the door I looked into the face of a man around my age with a pensive look he made a simple request.  Is the church open, I’d like to pray?

It may not seem an unusual request except that in my 15 years of ministry I could count on one hand the number of times this has occurred. Sadly, for some reason people have not understood or taken the opportunity to use our churches (especially Protestant ones) as sacred spaces.

I offered to join him but, ‘Thank you, I don’t really want any help’, he responded, ‘I’d just like somewhere quiet to pray, it’s for my family.’

This day, I was glad that this church is still here and that I was as well: someone to open the door; someone to give another the space they needed.  Pastoral care can be as simple as being prepared to open the door.

As difficult as it may seem I wonder just how important it is for our buildings to remain sacred spaces, and more importantly, how vital it is to be around to open the door, even just occasionally?