Saturday, February 16, 2013

Motherhood and the Office of Priesthood: When the Hoods Collide.

Overwhelming tearsfor shed blood
The constant reminder of sin within the sacrificial dutiesof the High Priest during the Day of Atonement brought me to tears the otherday.

“…You also, as living stones, are being built up as aspiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrificesacceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (Emphasis mine; 1 Peter 2:5).

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s ownpossession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called youout of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, butnow you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you havereceived mercy” (Emphasis mine; 1Peter 2.9, 10).

I am a Rock
The metaphor of being a living stone being built up into aspiritual house for a holy office—the priesthood—is an image that makes senseto me. I can visualize that I am a rock of the structure that God is and willuse through which He will offer up spiritual sacrifices.

After all, He’s the High Priest, who performed the dualoffice of sacrificer and sacrifice on the cross for my—and your—sins. I am one partof the vehicle through which God uses to do a holy work in and through me—as acorporate, spiritual house. I’m a rock. I get it.

What makes me fidget in my understanding is the next layerof priestly identity that’s revealed just a few verses beyond; I am a royal priesthood.

Maybe that doesn’tstop you in your tracks, but it sure stops me.

See, on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest makes twosacrifices: one of a bull and one of a goat.

Scripture does not ask the High Priest to bring a pre-packaged, commercially processed bull, but a strong bull. Without blemish. Perfect in every regard. Who was then beheaded, skinned, gutted, de-hooved and processed outside the camp by hand.

I imagine that preparing the bull for the altar of sacrificewas much more labor intensive than slapping a boneless, skinless chicken breastin the skillet after a quick shopping trip to the market. And I imagine that that bull sensed the fear of death andfought the levitical priest as the prepared knife punctured the flesh, surging forth blood, life. I imagine that the priest labored and dripped withsweat and had muscles that burned and ached as he performed these priestlyrites, which God had so perfectly instructed.

I imagine that the blood’s splatter wasn’t just limited to the altar or to his clothes, but covered his face, hands, hair. That it embeddeditself in the creases of his hands, under his nails, and stained his clothes.

The High Priest did this not just with the bull, but alsowith the goat.

Sacrifice is bloody business.
Yesterday afternoon I was reflecting on how I am likened to theroyal priesthood and trying to make a connection to the exhortation in Romans“to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice acceptable to God which isyour spiritual service of worship” (12.1). I was stretched out on my bed,trying to catch a much-needed nap, when my mind was alerted to my attire.

I was not freshly showered. My jeans, I’ve had on for nearlytwo weeks straight; and they show physical signs of the two-week, work-wearstint: baby cereal back splash near the pockets; very berry smoothie splattereddown the outside leg; dusty knees; dirty, curled up leg hole bottoms fromdragging the floor. 

My teeth were still fuzzy from the day before, and, I’m notsure, but I think I located food particles in my hair earlier in the morningafter breakfast. Motherhood is messy business.

A mother’s bull
Recounting some of the debris evidenced on my jeans, Iremembered strong-arming my thirty-five pound son to bed in order to preventhim from hurting himself as he fought me at nap time.

Shall I compare the struggle with my son to the struggle of one of the bulls at its death?

Shall I liken the baby splatter to the bloody spray of thosesacrifices so long ago?

I think so.

Motherhood’s dailysacrifice
In my limited understanding of the mysteries and symbolic nature of what Christ carried out and finished upon the cross, Ido know this. I know that as a mom—in this holy, royal, priestly calling—I offer upspiritual sacrifices in an effort to proclaim—to my children—the excellencies of Jesus, who called me out of thedarkness and into His wonderful light.

Sin atoned
Daily, I relinquish my desire for a perfectly ordered and clean home; I leave a dusty mountain of projects that my heart yearns to complete; I forfeit time to don a strong, slim, tidy appearance; and I give up my expectation of being a perfect mom, one who can do it all.

And there it is: my sin of perfectionism.

He died, once for all: a perfect, unblemished life in exchange for my nasty, self-centered life. 

It's a messy business to humble one's heart and desires to the calling of God upon one's life. It's even messier to acknowledge and repent of the sin that so easily entangles.

But, oh! the joy. The joy of being At-one-ment with the Lamb. The joy of glorifying His Majesty through tired eyes, soiled clothes, and untidy messes. And the joy of yielding to the needs of my little lambs.

Lord Jesus, Enable meto experience the joy You’ve promised me when I live within the truth of mypriestly role and function offering daily sacrifices to You, as powered by YourHoly Spirit. Let my children see, firsthand, the humble, tender, fearful heartof their mother as she yields her desires, agendas, time, energies whilewillingly and quietly she climbs upon the altar of sacrifice. May they knowthat the life I live, I live by Your strength alone. Amen.