This morning I was at Lichfield Cathedral for the ordination of Ness Tobin, our new curate, and 14 other deacons. It was a great celebration, and it’s great to welcome Ness and her family to the Church in Wednesfield.
Then reading these chapters I felt a huge sense of relief that ordinations aren’t what they used to be. No animals were slaughtered this morning in the Cathedral, and Ness’s new white stole stayed free from bloodstains.
Then this evening, as Ness helped me to celebrate communion for her first service at St Thomas’ I was reminded of how worship has changed. Bread was broken and shared, wine poured and drunk, as we remembered Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the Cross. Perhaps we need to be reminded of the seriousness of worship by recalling the sacrifices and bloodshed of the Old Testament tabernacle. For we approach in worship the same God whom Aaron and his sons served at the altar. The blood shed by animal sacrifice was somehow a way to keep open communication between us and God, until Jesus could fulfil the demands of sacrifice for all and for all time.
But it’s not that the whole system of sacrifices was unnecessary or wrong. It’s that it’s been fulfilled and completed. So every time I stand at the Holy table at communion, I can be grateful that I don’t need a knife to offer sacrifice for the people of Wednesfield. Jesus has already done that in his sacrifice of himself.
And whenever you come to worship and don’t need to bring an animal to sacrifice at the altar, say a prayer of thanks to Jesus for opening a way back to God where all you need to sacrifice is your pride.