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Toward a more sacramental life.

Byline: FROM HEART TO HEART By David Van Slyke For The Register-Guard

Ienjoy meeting with Father David Lubliner, who leads St. John Maximovitch Eastern Orthodox Church, to talk about spirituality. One day we talked about the phrase "a sacramental life."

We discussed how we are sacramental when we do things that identify us with who God is or what God is doing. Communion and immersion are the most classic New Testament examples: rituals that psychologically help people identify with Yeshua's sacrifice and resurrection, and spiritually invite God's presence within us.

This prompted me to consider other ways to be sacramental. Two further examples from Judaism are the concepts of a b'rucha and kadosh.

A b'rucha is a blessing that begins, "Blessed are you, Adonai our God." This poses an interesting question: How can people bless God? We can bless God when we pray that his will about himself will be true on earth. This phrase is really saying, "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

Judaism teaches that the act of agreeing with Adonai's will is a participation in doing what Adonai is doing. As Ezekiel 22:30-31 mentions, sometimes it only takes one person to agree with God's will to allow God to do something on earth.

This agreement and participation are why Jewish people say they "make a b'rucha," not "say a b'rucha," and this is why a b'rucha is sacramental. It is intended to help us participate in God's continuing work of creation. If we make a b'rucha as the day starts, before we eat, before we pray and before we do a good deed - these are reminders that we are doing God's business.

In contrast, the concept of kadosh is about re-creation. The word kadosh is normally translated "holy" but really means "set apart." Jewish teaching notes that the created world was good but not intrinsically holy (except for Shabbat). When something is made holy - set apart for God - we are not restoring the purity of Eden but building toward the sacredness of the world to come.

Zechariah knew this and humorously (yet seriously) wrote that in the world to come even people's cooking pots will have written upon them "Holy to Adonai." If we set apart an hour or day for worship, a pair of candlesticks to use only in welcoming holidays, and our lives in devotion and service to God - these activities are very present, but also eternal.

With the b'rachot, we recognize that we are participating in what God is doing in this world. By being kadosh we recognize that we are becoming what God will allow in the world to come.

Within the local Interfaith community are many different ideas about what God is doing now and what we are becoming in the future. But all can appreciate in their own ways how prayer can be participating in the divine, and devotion can be transformation into the eternal. Allow me to make my thanks to Father David, and for prompting me to focus on this insight!

David Van Slyke is the Maggid (pastor) at Messianic Jewish Congregation P'nei Adonai. This column is coordinated by Two Rivers Interfaith Ministries, a network of more than 35 religious traditions in the Eugene-Springfield area. For more information, visit or call 344-5693.
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Title Annotation:Columns
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Column
Date:Oct 22, 2005
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