S (Scripture): Ezekiel 44:4 Then he brought me by way of the north gate to the front of the temple. I looked, and suddenly the Lord’s glory filled the Lord’s temple, and I fell on my face. 5 Then the Lord said to me: Human one, pay close attention! Use your eyes and ears and listen to all that I say to you concerning the regulations of the Lord’s temple and all its instructions. Pay close attention to the access to the temple through all the sanctuary portals. 6 Speak to the rebels, to the house of Israel, The Lord God proclaims: Enough of your detestable practices, house of Israel! 7 You made my temple unclean because you brought into my sanctuary foreigners who were physically and spiritually uncircumcised.
O (Observation): God continues to reveal a prophetic word to Ezekiel. These words are focused on the Temple that is to be and how God’s people went astray in the Temple before.
God’s people allowed those who did not follow God to enter the holiest of God’s locale on earth. God never wanted to be separate from the world. However, God’s people were called to centralize their faith journey around a place – The Temple.
God’s people were called to gather in this place to renew their hearts and minds, to be reminded of God’s love, to be reminded that forgiveness happens with God.
Yet God’s people took advantage of God’s grace, allowing for the Temple to be run by people who followed other gods.
Those who did not fear God were not circumcised. In this case, God refers to those uncircumcised physically OR spiritually! That’s a big deal. God has moved from a purely physical circumcision – common enough for males – to a spiritual circumcision. In other words, regardless of one’s gender, one could be considered holy simply by being through a change of the heart, saved by grace through faith.
A (Application): Times change. Our expression of faith changes over time. Our faith used to be expressed simply by showing up to worship, giving offering, attending Sunday School and the like.
Nowadays, faith is lived out less and less in the sanctuary and more and more in the streets and in the home. The home was always to be a place of faith formation, but we have gotten used to faith being “taught” by professionals.
The scary part these days is that we don’t know what faith formation looks like anymore, since our old measures are no longer valid. Attendance at church on Sunday morning and robust committees are no longer the central point of Faith formation. They are still important, but how that takes shape is different now.
As mentioned in Ezekiel, a spiritual circumcision is now the norm. And that is harder to see. In that case, we move to different clues about the faith of others. We look to see how a person of faith bears fruit in the home, in the work place, in their volunteering, amongst strangers and such. These are harder metrics to track down.
We are grateful that we can adapt to faith formative practices and embrace the Spirit’s movement in our world today. God sends prophetic visions to us so that we can wrestle with what God is saying to us and how we can respond in faith.
May we have eyes to see and ears to hear what God is up to in our ever changing world.
P (Prayer): Lord, open our eyes and ears to your saving grace. Amen.