The Killing Floor: A Divinely Inspected Slaughterhouse

A Passage, Post and Poem for Lent

PASSAGE:

The Lord called to Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting. He said, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When anyone among you brings an offering to the Lord, bring as your offering an animal from either the herd or the flock.

“‘If the offering is a burnt offering from the herd, you are to offer a male without defect. You must present it at the entrance to the tent of meeting so that it will be acceptable to the Lord. You are to lay your hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on your behalf to make atonement for you. You are to slaughter the young bull before the Lord, and then Aaron’s sons the priests shall bring the blood and splash it against the sides of the altar at the entrance to the tent of meeting. You are to skin the burnt offering and cut it into pieces. The sons of Aaron the priest are to put fire on the altar and arrange wood on the fire. Then Aaron’s sons the priests shall arrange the pieces, including the head and the fat, on the wood that is burning on the altar. You are to wash the internal organs and the legs with water, and the priest is to burn all of it on the altar. It is a burnt offering, a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the Lord.

POST:

Grunting, squealing, they left the trailer, entered pens to wait their turn to be led single file to slaughter: Caged, electrocuted, flopping out, to be hung on meat hooks, then jerkily travelling the killing floor where their carcasses were scalded, skinned, and sliced up, divided into bacon, ham, chops, loins, and ribs, that, once cooked, make a pleasing aroma to consumers.

Beef sides hang in a chilling room at a slaughterhouse in Nebraska

Reading Leviticus reminds me of bringing hogs to market, few of our “piggies” stayed home, and none ever had pudding. Leviticus drips with blood; Smoke and ashes waft up, sting our eyes of faith, though, it’s a pleasing aroma to God, as we read.

The LORD’s dry instructions tend to distance us from the hands on brutality of it all, the bloody messiness with the acrid smell of burning flesh and fat, along with the sight of charred bones and a blood stained alter, from which blood-red rivulets run, and pool.

The LORD’s Priests are Holy butchers, enacting worship as a deadly serious ritual, twice daily and more, day after day, ad nauseum, to show the cost of sin, death; Represented in the killing of animals, in place of people.

Reading what the LORD says in Leviticus starkly confronts us with the bloody deadly cost of sin! His detailed instructions were enacted repeatedly until Golgotha, an exposed hill like a skull. There, once for all, our sins were and are atoned for by one death, of a person.

Now, thanks to the Lord’s calling, we no longer tread the killing floor. Our lives are a pleasing aroma to God in Jesus Christ.

POEM: “And The LORD called…” (Hebrew – WAYYIQRA AKA Leviticus)

…for blood and gore

Because we’re all whores.

Blood pours from the gashes,

fat, flesh, and bone become ashes,

float and fall, from scroll, page, or screens.

What’s that sound?

Can you hear the screams?

Best of the breeding stock,

because Yahweh won’t be mocked!

What’s that Smell?

Like burnt toast,

it’s roasted grain,

with a pinch of salt.

All to keep sin at bay.

Can’t just hit alt-delete,

and make it all just go away.

What’s that you see?

List after list,

like a deadly mist,

so many sacrificial trysts,

from tabernacle to temples,

all a series of deadly examples

long before Golgotha!

What’s that?

The real thing, once for all,

by one alone.

He changes whores,

raises the dead,

who now tread,

the killing floors,

no more.

A poetic posting: Proximity

Tree ablaze

limbs alight

stands unscathed

yet engulfed.

Unconsumed,

but transformed.

Its branches silhouetted

in a fiery halo.

Distance saves!

A million miles plus some more.

Not so for us.

Nearness saves!

As in this:

“Nearer, my Saviour, still nearer to thee”

Closer than Moses, footwear and all.

All because of Golgotha’s

blazing tree,

its constant proximity

unchanging through centuries,

silhouettes

us, sin scathed,

yet standing

unconsumed,

and conformed!

Lives alight!

Limbs alive!

Hearts ablaze!

My poem was inspired from this photograph by John Verburg. It is a worth at least a thousand words, my poem barely captures a percent of this image’s fiery brilliance.

Checkout John’s photography at

https://instagram.com/johnverburgphotography?igshid=12dr6upmfss37

“Raise a Little Hell”

How I trooped back to church through Rock with some monks. January 2021

After forty years of church, seven as a pastor, I lost my religion.

I wanted nothing to do with it. I was frustrated, burned out, and angry. Depression and anxiety overwhelmed both medications and counselling. The anger was rooted in hurt, disappointment, and tiredness. It led to behaviour “unbecoming a pastor”, storming out of meetings, or swearing at an elder.

These have consequences, rightly, and sadly so. I was retired for health reasons, burnout and depression. Thankfully, this allowed me to retain my ministerial credentials. An irreverent Reverend. Some desired stronger consequences, which I admit, had some justification.

After forty dutiful years – church attendance, Christian Schools & Colleges, Catechism, Small Groups, Seminary, and pastoring – I was free falling, with further to go.

I was bad to the bone in the province of stinking thinking. To make ends meet I drove transport, long haul. Its cab, was my cell, jail and monastic, retreat and remand. Here, I wrestled with God, swamped in self-pity. I believed no one could understand my despair and humiliation. I grieved for a job I’d loved and lost, more than I’d done for any person. Talk about stinking thinking!

I was going through a “teenage rebellion” in my forties, or midlife crisis. So I turned the Rock up loud, from the fifties to the naughts, and beyond. The defiant screams, heart-broken anger, and biting lyrics with raucous guitar riffs and heavy back beat, articulated my state of mind for several years.

Chuck Berry, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Sammy Hagar, Styx, Trooper, Bob Seger, Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams, John Couger Mellencamp, and of course, U2 & Midnight Oil, plus others.

They did what no one else could do, stick with me, in a living hell of heart and mind. Providentially, they were backed up by God, through the prayers of my Men’s Group, spouse, family, and friends.

Eventually their prayers infiltrated the driving rock lyrics to say, “Hey Mister! It’s a beautiful day, don’t let it get away! Someday you’ll get it right! But today, as a man in motion, start taking care of business again, provide for your faith life, stop letting the four strong winds toss you about, feel the hand of God reaching out for you, making your own Northwest passage.”

God did not speak so inarticulately. Yet, overtime, He impressed that and more on my heart. I began salting my Rock with Cistercian Chant. Then one day I noticed I was praying for others. Then rock was joined by Jazz, Western, Classical, followed some time later by Fernando Ortega, John Michael Talbot, and Newsboys. Gradually church attendance crawled from 5 times/year, to once per month, which stepped up to twice per month, then I was back into a steady, weekly pace. I was in church again!

I told my men’s group, “I really don’t know, how I got from where I was seven years ago to here. From a mental hell, to something beautiful today, not quite heaven, but at least walking on sunshine more often than not.”

Their response, “Remember, we prayed for you…, A LOT!”

Have I found religion again?

Well, I’m not free falling anymore. My faith’s been restored. There are things I don’t like, so I raise a little hell with God, who changes me to see something beautiful despite the ugliness.

Some beautiful things are I am now at home in not one, but two congregations, and two small groups. Plus, I work part-time for my denomination again. All faithful, not perfect, like me, partnering with God to change the world to the place where the streets have no name.

“How do we get there?”

Grace.

“It could be a name, yet, it’s a thought that changed the world.”

Did mine, thanks to Rock and monks, I found myself still in the hands of God.

Holding a light for another, gets messy