February 08, 2013
Written by Daniel Hazard

Excerpt from Deuteronomy 9:15-24

"So I turned and went down from the mountain, while the mountain was ablaze; the two tablets of the covenant were in my two hands. Then I saw that you had indeed sinned against the Lord your God, by casting for yourselves an image of a calf.  Then I took the sinful thing you had made, the calf, and burned it with fire and crushed it, grinding it thoroughly, until it was reduced to dust."

Quinn G. Caldwell

This one time, Moses went up on the mountain, received the Covenant, and returned to find everybody worshiping an idol.  He did just what people in high moral dudgeon always do when they think you're worshiping an idol: smash it.  That attitude has caused much pain and been a disaster for art and archeology over the years.  But that doesn't mean smashing idols is always the wrong thing to do, at least when it comes to your own (these days it's generally considered rude to smash others').  Idols don't have some magical power inside them that can only be dissipated with a sledge hammer; it's just that taking physical action helps us get our metaphysical selves in the right place.  Also, it's oddly satisfying, like popping a zit.

I'm sure you haven't spent much time this year bowing down before crudely-formed clay statues, but if you're like the rest of us, you spent a little more time than you should worshiping something that you shouldn't.  What is it?  Your bank account (whether too full or too empty)?  Your sex life?  A bottle?  Some noble political struggle?  An old resentment?  What do you spend so much time and energy and money on that somebody else would think it's the God you worship?

Today, consider finding a symbol for that thing, taking it out back, and smashing it.  Set it on fire.  Rip it up.  Grind it into dust.  Unmake it so that you can be remade into what you were made to be: a worshiper of the only One worth worshiping.  As you do it, pray:


God, I offer you this idol of mine: ________.  *smash, rip, crackle*  I offer you, too, these bits and pieces, like the bits and pieces of my attention, so easily distracted by shiny things.  Gather together now all the bits of my attention, the pieces of my life, and return them to you.  Amen.

About the Author
Quinn G. Caldwell is Pastor and Teacher at Plymouth Congregational Church, UCC, in Syracuse, New York, and co-editor, with Curtis J. Preston, of the Unofficial Handbook of the United Church of Christ, published by The Pilgrim Press.

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