One of the subjects that God drew to our attention while we were on retreat recently was something that Baptist Christians rarely talk about – that of consecration, or being ‘set apart’ for God to use. It cropped up in our daily reading one morning, when we read some words that Joshua spoke to the Israelites, just before they were led into the Promised Land: –
‘Joshua told the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.’’ (Joshua 3:5)
The commentary accompanying our notes pointed out that ‘the Israelites were about to experience some very significant things that God had promised them for many years. This was no ordinary moment, and so God told them to consecrate themselves… to set [themselves] apart, [making] them sacred and [giving themselves] to God.’ (Lectio365, 21/10/2022)
The principle was illustrated for us in two very contrasting ways later that same day. Firstly, while visiting Exeter Cathedral, we noticed a small shelf in one of the side chapels with a sign indicating that this was where the ‘consecrated bread and wine’ reserved for Holy Communion was kept. And secondly, when we went out for lunch we realised that, in a way, the table that we reserved was set apart, or dedicated, or ‘consecrated’ solely for our use for that meal.
And, of course, as we celebrate our wedding anniversary with our family today, we are reminded that the vows we made before God 40 years ago were a form of consecration – setting ourselves apart for a lifelong relationship with each other. (By the way – thank you so much for your generosity in giving us an unexpected early celebration last Sunday… we look forward to opening your gift this morning!)
All of these examples demonstrate that consecration gives something – or someone – a real sense of purpose, and the same sorts of principles apply when we invite God to take our lives and consecrate us for him to use in his mission to the world. Our reflection on our retreat that morning went on to ask us whether our lives are fully consecrated to God – a challenge on which we are still reflecting. How about you? For what purpose has God reserved you? What areas of your life are not yet reserved for God? To what purpose (or renewed sense of purpose) might you need to consecrate yourself? And what amazing things does God plan to do among us as a result?
With our love and prayers
Matthew and Pauline