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Redmond, WA 98052
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  Sunday, August 20, 2017


The Earth is the Lord’s and the Fullness Thereof Psalm 24:1

July 2003

I’m a fairly concrete thinker; I like to spend more time in the compost pile than in the seed catalog. Much of the work of the church is an abstraction: “the cure of souls,” “stewards of the mysteries of God.” But all abstract piety must come to earth, must be handled, and sweated over to be of ultimate use for us and for God. Thus the Word, Jesus, became flesh and lived and died and resurrected among us.

Christ’s life was very earthy. I imagine he smelled of mutton sweat. His feet and hands were calloused like leather, his face weathered by the beating sun. Many profound encounters happened outdoors, in the market, at the city gates, among the tombs, in the fields, in the olive garden, by the city garbage dump, on the sea and seashore. They usually threw Jesus out of temple and synagogue and disapproved of his home visits. In his own words he had “no place to lay his head.”

But everywhere Christ walked became holy ground. Even unclean places became holy ground: the leper’s colony, the stripped adulteress’s wall for stoning to death, the tax collector’s corrupt feast table, the stinking grave of Lazarus, the via dolorosa, his cursed cross, and ultimately, his garden tomb, now enshrined as the “Church of the Holy Sepulcher.” In his earthly ministry, Jesus demonstrated the psalmist’s declaration that all the fullness of the earth is the Lord’s. As God Incarnate, Christ laid claim to all the earth.

How much of the world around us do we consider holy space? How much would God ask us to make holy by our presence and use? Let me back off a bit and give another example, the church property. We own something like 4.8 acres. In a casual random poll, most people I asked could not tell me where the boundaries of our property lay. Most people had no idea how many acres we own. Most people considered the worship space to be the church building proper; a few more included the education building and the ministry center (office). None considered the playground, parking lots, or lawn areas. But what about all this other-than-holy ground? If Jesus spent as much time in ministry on our property as he did in life, where would he spend most of his time indoors or outdoors?

In the past we have entertained spending millions to build new indoor facilities to enhance our worship. But what if we followed in Jesus’ footsteps? What if we hallowed this whole earth as worship space in innovative ways? The land is in the process of being cleared and seeded, the painter’s pallet stretched blank and ready. It lies well within our creative talents, our wallets, and our many capable hands to make true what the psalmist declared and Jesus demonstrated, that this 4.8 acres of earth could be the Lord’s. For starters, a labyrinth mown in the grass, a temporary summer worship whimsy. For the future, imagine a wheelchair accessible Stations of the Cross path meandering around the boundaries of our property. Imagine our land as a sanctuary, and a spiritual haven for pilgrims in boots and umbrellas beating the bounds in prayer. We’re standing on holy ground.

—Jim

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