Tell the House of Israel: Thus said the Lord God: ‘I am going to desecrate My Sanctuary, your pride and glory, the delight of your eyes and the desire of your heart.
I can just imagine being the prophet bringing these words to a congregation. The sanctuary, Sunday school rooms, and the altar rail given in memory of Grandma Jane will be destroyed by God, why? Because it has become our idol, our delight!
I don’t think this would go over very well . . . the destruction nor the calling the community to the sin of idolatry through sacred cowism.
If we are honest with ourselves we would realize that we are all guilty of elevating things, expecially “sacred” things, to the level of God. But I would say that there is a special brand of this that happens in many congregations, that many times serves not only to continue a pattern of idolatry but to paralized the mission of that congregation in their community.
Heaven forbid that we touch the flag, pulpit, pews, or (as it actually happened in one of the churches I have served) the memorial coffee maker that no longer works.
I wonder what would happen if God destroyed it all after telling us through a prophet why? Would we listen? Would we realize that none of those things are of ultimate importance? Would we be freed then to focus our efforts, attention, and passions on God’s mission?
I hope that we do not need destruction to help us realize how idolatrous we have become as God’s people. May God’s Spirit speak to us and convict us when our good intentions to honor become a hindrance to the real ministry of the church.
Maybe congregations should stop receiving “memorial” gifts (or any gifts for that matter) with any strings attached?