Consecration. What does it mean?
By Kent French
May 18, 2017 - 4:13pm
It’s one of those beautiful words that we seldom use and may have forgotten. My guess is that it is not in your active vocabulary. Honestly, it hasn’t been in mine, until a new member of our Stewardship and Budget Ministry Team suggested that we have a Consecration Sunday.
Consecrate basically means “to make sacred.” When we pray over the bread and juice at communion, we are consecrating them, asking God to make them holy, spiritual food for us. We do the same over our offering when we say our prayer of dedication: “make these holy gifts for creating your kin(g)dom on Earth as it is in Heaven.”
At my former church, they had a beautiful, custom-made communion table. Made of beautiful woods, it had carved images along the border of bread, grapes and chalices, as well as the local favorites, salmon and maple leaves. In the middle was a 2,000-year-old piece of redwood, symbolizing the 2,000-year-old tradition of the meal. The table was big and round and the focal piece of furniture in the sanctuary. Everything else in the room followed the contours of that magnificent piece of artisanship.
It was natural for me to have us place the offering on the table after the collection, but many long-time members balked. They would even quickly move the offering to a spindly little table next to the pulpit — which made me, as the preacher, even more nervous. When I asked a former pastor she said, “Well, we avoided that because money is dirty. And placing it on the table connoted sacrifice.”
Money is not dirty. Money is a means to an end, like food or water or paper or ink. It can get dirty, for sure, and often does. But when we give it in church, we are giving it for holy, noble, God-centered purposes. It’s not that we always know exactly how to use it in God-centered ways, but we are asking God to help us do that. Sometimes the holy purpose is keeping the light or the heat on, or having enough paper in the copier, or enough people to clean and welcome others. And often, giving money may be a sacrifice. It may mean that you are sacrificing getting something you really want or need to give the money to other, good causes.
And so this Sunday is a beautiful Sunday, a time when we bring forward our gifts and annual pledges to the communion table, the place where we ingest holy food together. A time when we re-commit our resources to this holy work among us — the work of helping people transform their souls and re-commit ourselves again and again to helping bring about the kind of just, loving, compassionate world that we think God intended.
Bring your pledge forms for worship and stay for a celebratory lunch! As I have written you previously, this year we are asking for 100% participation in pledging, as well as a 15% increase in our overall stewardship, in order to support the ways this vibrant and loving community is growing into the future. However you choose to give, I hope you will come and take part as together, we ask God to consecrate us.