Why I Sacrificed A Cow on the Altar on Sunday

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It is true that I sacrificed a cow on Sunday.

It is true that the cow was up on the altar.

I hit it with a hammer.

It was a powerful sermon illustration, one that I'll use again.

It is also true that the cow was merely a "piggy bank cow" and was only 12 inches tall.

It was empty.

It was spray-painted gold.

And it was dramatically broken into many more pieces than I could have hoped for.

Sunday we talked about the Golden Calf from Exodus, where Aaron and the faith-challenged Hebrews got worried when Moses was way too long up the mountain talking with God. They kinda' forgot all that God had done for them, even though he had just dramatically delivered them from captivity in Egypt. They wanted to put their trust in something more tangible, something they could touch...a cow statue. And it just so happened that this statue was made out of gold earrings...a sign of their wealth and material belongings -- things we too make an idol of.

Anyway, during the children's time, before the sermon, we talked about the golden idol the Hebrews had made and put our little golden cow on our altar in place of our cross. The cow was front and center and we talked about the worship that we offer to God (singing, prayers, offerings) that we could offer to the cow instead. That's what the Hebrews did. And that worship is reserved for God alone.

As we continued, the cow remained on the altar and more than one person said afterwards that they wanted to tell me I had forgotten to move it off the altar.  But it was there by design, taking the awkward space that's usually reserved for the cross, right there next to the communion elements.

Then, during the sermon we talked about the love and providence of our God and how, since the Hebrews, who had such a dramatic connection to our God, could forget God, that it must be must easier for us to forget.  Our experiences of deliverance are much smaller.  If the Hebrews wanted to put their faith in a God that was more tangible and material and understandable by making an idol, we, too, must have that problem.  And so, when we forget to offer God thanks and praise for what God has done, we'll find ourselves making idols of other things; putting our trust where it doesn't belong. We may not actually melt down our jewelry to fashion a statue, but we'll trust relationships, families, job situations, and, in our consumeristic western culture, MONEY.  And that "golden calf" comes in and takes the spot reserved for God.

All the while, our piggy bank cow was front and center.

So, as we kicked off our stewardship campaign, I challenged the congregation to PRACTICE THANKFULNESS this week; to remember what God has done for them and to put our trust and faith and hope in his providential care of us. If we remember to offer God thanks, then we'll keep him in his rightful place as the object of our worship and we'll destroy the golden calves, the sacred cows, of our lives.  We'll find that we don't need to put our trust and faith and hope in anything else.

I was passionate.

I was moved.

It was one of those times where I could tell I had been swept out of the way in the sermon and the Spirit was moving.

I was pumped.

At that point I grabbed a hammer from the pulpit and smashed the cow, sending pieces flying.

And I put the cross back on the altar.

It was dramatic.


And that's why I sacrificed a cow on the altar on Sunday.

Next time I'll go a little easier with the hammer.

I kinda' broke the plexiglass protective cover to the altar.

Nevertheless, it was a God-thing.
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