Acceptable Sacrifice

For you have no delight in sacrifice; if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased.
The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
—Psalm 51:16-17

Ritual supports faith. Sometimes it's very important. I can't remain on a spiritual high 100% of the time. Ritual exists to show us that my faith is not exclusively my own. It is shared by and within a tradition. Even when "I'm just not feeling it," it's still there, being supported a community, never out of reach.

But the psalms and the prophets remind me that ritual is a resting place, but not a permanent home. The point of ritual is what's behind it, what it stands for. If my heart's not in it, it's not really there... for me at least. It can be a placeholder for a while, but eventually, faith is required.

The ideal example is the old practice of sacrifice. It stood for repentance. It symbolized an emptying of self, letting go and letting God. But if it was just for show, if the one making the sacrifice honestly thought they were bribing God, that God needed what they were offering, then there was no point to the sacrifice. That's the because the point of sacrifice was never the sacrifice, but the heart making it.

My heart is hard, Lord. Break it up that it might be no longer mine, then make it whole again, put back together by the love you have shown me in the ultimate sacrifice: that of Christ on the cross. Amen.