In the recent prediction of the beginning of the end of the world and aftermath of the F5 tornado that hit Joplin, Mo., I’ve been thinking a lot about the future, destiny and the fate that awaits us all.
Because of this, S is for sacramental this ABC Wednesday.
According to Merriam Webster, Sacramental means of, relating to, or having the character of a sacrament.
Since I was taught to never define a word using a derivative of that word, here’s another angle. Sacrament: a Christian rite (as baptism or the Eucharist) that is believed to have been ordained by Christ and that is held to be a means of divine grace or to be a sign or symbol of a spiritual reality.
For us believers, a sacrament is something tangible that does something. It’s not seen as some sort of magic hocus pocus, but is an external representation of an invisible reality. I know, clear as mud.
In simpler terms, a sacrament is an external sign of God’s presence in our lives that represents an internal, personal relationship with us. Catholics have about 7 of them; Protestants have only 2 that are officially considered sacraments. But to give a finite number to how many there are defeats the purpose and reduces faith to religiosity, checklists and technicalities.
Today, I say life itself is a sacrament. Using Webster’s definition (held to be a means of divine grace or to be a sign or symbol of a spiritual reality), the whole of creation could be considered a sacrament because God is everywhere and present in everything. This concept is not the same as pantheism.
Whether it be the breathtaking beauty of spectacular places on this planet or the sheer, awesome, destructive power of nature, He is present in everything in ways designed to establish a personal relationship with us.
Yes, bad things happen to good people. Bad things happen to Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Pagans and Atheists. No one has a pass on sorrow because of their faith…or lack thereof. Life is sacred and precious in all belief systems. This side of heaven, it’s the norm.
For me, life is a gift, a sign of grace and definitely represents a spiritual reality…it is a sacrament in and of itself. When I see the scenes of Joplin, Tuscaloosa and other areas affected by nature’s fury, it makes life even more precious and sends me searching for the meaning of it.
God ordained life. The divine and human natures combined into one person, Jesus Christ. What better symbol of a spiritual reality is there? This incarnation created a bridge between God and all of creation, which includes us. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).
God Himself lived and continues to live among us. He waits for us to realize He is intertwined in everything that happens to us. Because He experienced every human emotion known, he understands what we are going through. Jesus promised, “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:20).
For those that feel they’ve seen the end of their world, these words my provide comfort and hope to face another day and move forward. After scenes like this, an act of faith is certainly what is needed.