Pastor's Message



DISCIPLEGRAM

The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod

St. Paul Lutheran Church, Preschool & Child Care

743 22-1/2 Avenue, Cumberland, WI

Area Code 715; Office 822-8690; FAX 822-5018

Web Site:www.stpaulcumberland.com; E-Mail: spc100@ centurytel. net

Pastor: John Miels, jmiels89@gmail.comt

Secretary: Barb Ohlemann (Tue-Fri, 8-1)

Preschool Director; Gretchen Frendt (822-8404)

Disciplegram

Considering the Temple Veil

On the day Jesus died a rather extraordinary event happened in the temple. It’s made even more extraordinary by the fact that most of us get it completely backwards. “The veil was not torn to let us in but to let God out.” — Chad Bird

What happened? The veil separating the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place was torn in two from top to bottom. We usually assume that the ripped veil was a symbol that the avenue to God has been cleared of roadblocks. No more veil, no more wall, no more only one Jewish high priest dressed to the liturgical clerical nines entering annually with goat blood in his hands to paint the seat of mercy. All that’s over and done. Since Jesus came and saw and conquered, all that Leviticus stuff has been boxed up, handed to UPS, and shipped off to the museum.

Now that is true. But it’s not why the temple veil was torn in two from top to bottom.

The veil was not torn to let us in but to let God out.

Remember a key point about holiness in Israel. Holiness had a center from which centrifugal areas of holiness spread out like ripples on a pond. The Holy of Holies was the holiest place, the epicenter of sanctity, because it was God’s little cube on this third rock from the sun. His address was 1 Temple Avenue. The closer some person or something was to this epicenter, the holier it was. The farther away, the less holy it was. Sanctification was as much spatial as it was theological. 

But this old way of worship had a shelf life. Old Covenant would be replaced with a New Covenant. God was planning a great big surprise party for the cosmos. He was waiting for the right moment to pack up His sanctification suitcase, say goodbye to His cube (holy seat), and hit the road to take holiness everywhere He went. And that’s precisely what He did when Jesus cried out, “It is finished.” God moved out of the Holy of Holies. Or, to put it another way, God kicked down the door in the temple and brought the Holy of Holies out to us. 

Zechariah had winked about this change centuries before. He foretold the day when even the bells on the horses would bear the inscription, “Holy to the LORD.” The same words reserved for the headpiece of the head honcho of the priesthood would now be inscribed on the jingling harnesses of horses in the street (Zech 14:20). What’s more, the cooking pots that moms use to make lunch in Jewish kitchens would be just as holy as the cooking pot used for sacrifices in the temple (Zech 14:21). 

In other words, Aslan is on the move. Yahweh has slipped on His Nikes and gone for a long, long walk—and He brings holiness with Him, leading captives (you and me) in His train. 

He brings it to us: Jews and Gentiles, men and women, old and young. He’s extravagant with His holiness, throwing it here and there as if He can’t get rid of it fast enough. He’s not like some miser who growls at people as they come groveling for holiness. He runs at them and presses it into their hands. 

He liquidates the Holy of Holies into a font of water and splashes sanctification on us unwashed, unholy sinners, thereby crowning us kings and queens of God. He bakes the Holy of Holies into a circle of bread, ferments it into a sip of wine, and bids us digest His love. Even the mere speaking of His words showers us with sanctity as those nouns and verbs, like a flock of holy birds, come and nest in our hearts. 

If horses’ bells and mom’s frying pan are now holy because Yahweh has infiltrated Jerusalem, then there’s a whole lot more that’s holy. Our ears and eyes and feet and hands are holy, too. Work is holy. Play is holy. Smoking my pipe is holy. Making love to my spouse is holy. Driving my truck is holy. Taking my dog for a walk is holy. Sanctification has flooded the world beginning at the cross. Neither in Jerusalem or Samaria shall we worship the Father, Jesus says, but we worship in Spirit and in truth (John 4:21, 23). Where His Spirit and truth are, there is holiness. 

To borrow a phrase from, “O Brother, Where Art Thou”: When it comes to the temple, God’s done R-U-N-N-O-F-T. 

The veil is ripped in two. God has vacated the Holy of Holies. And He’s come out to meet us, to holy us, to forgive us, and to make us all His priests who serve Him in the temples of our lives and the altars of our vocations. Where He is with His Spirit, with this truth, with His gifts, there is the Holy of Holies. We have access to Him by His action toward us.

That’s why the temple veil was torn in two.


Pastor John



 


Your brother in Christ,

Pastor John