Sacred Cows

Monday, June 15, 2015
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Listen while you read: "O Lord Of Heav'n And Earth And Sea"1 (Lyrics)

The dictionary defines "sacred cow" as something which cannot be tampered with or criticized for fear of public outcry; a person, institution, or belief system which, for no reason other than the demands of established social etiquette or popular opinion, should be accorded respect or reverence, and not be touched, handled, or examined too closely.

Recently, my Lutheran congregation sold its building and amalgamated with an Anglican church. It certainly was a learning experience for all of us. When our congregation was invited to join with the other congregation, some of us were anxious, and we wondered if this coming together would work out.

Right at the start, some of us were afraid to sit in any pew, thinking that perhaps we were taking someone else's spot. There were different ways of doing things in the sanctuary, different ways of following the order of service, and different ways of doing things in the church kitchen. There were different hymns to learn. We had to try to remember all the names of our new-found brothers and sisters in Christ.

It was during a Sunday sermon that our pastor held up a stained glass picture of a cow with a halo around it. It said "Holy Cow" at the top. She talked about the various "sacred cows" that we have within our church and the importance that they present to each individual. She then asked the congregation what some of these "sacred cows" were. Anglicans bow before the altar whenever individuals go up for reading the lessons, whereas the Lutherans do not bow before the altar. The Lutherans wanted to bring their bell along to the Anglican building and ring it whenever we say the Lord's Prayer. Some of the Lutherans would be upset if the ringing of the bell didn't happen. Upon listening to a few examples, she went on to say that the important issue with this is that as we continue to learn from each other and become one in Christ, some of these "sacred cows" are not as important as listening, accepting, and loving our brothers and sisters in Christ.

At the closing of the worship service, we always turn towards the front entrance, and as usual, the pastor gave the same departing ritual dismissal, to which someone shouted, "Sacred cow!" Of course, the entire congregation burst out laughing.

Romans 15:5-7 – May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory. (NLT)

Are you harbouring "sacred cows" insensitively in your words and actions that would alienate your brothers and sisters in Christ?

Prayer: Lord God, continue to guide each and every one of us. Help us to let go of non-essential traditions that we are so accustomed to, so that we don't hurt our brothers and sisters in Christ. Grant us peace, forgiveness, and love. Amen.

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About the author:

Rosemary Hagedorn <>
Penetanguishene, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thanks for sharing these experiences and lessons.

    Wonderful and thought provoking words. Gives me a whole new understanding of “Holy Cow”. Thank you.

    Well Rosy the Presbyterian church is the only church in my community that I have attended, it’s pretty simple & they are putting on an addition.
    God be with you.

    I have been reading the PCC Daily Devotional for about 7 years now. This is one of the best I have seen. My Presbyterian Church in Florida could learn alot from this devotional.

    Hello Roesmary,
    Thanks ever so much for contributing to Presby Can Daily. Life is indeed about change and giving up sacred cows.
    Thanks again.

    Hello Rosemary! Thanks for the message which certainly warmed my heart today. From one ‘Anglican” to a sister “Lutheran”, as you noted, does ritual really matter. In the long run, no. However a preferred form of liturgy can enhance individual worship — especially if it has been their style over many years. I am presently in my 85th year!!!
    Blessings on your day today Rosemary.

    That must be something for a Lutheran and Anglican congregations to merge.
    Years ago when a small Lutheran church was in the way of expressway expansion the church was sold. It was a brick church and was taken apart and moved across town and as we said was converted and became Anglican.
    The Lutherans built a new bigger church not far from where they had been.
    The Anglican with its new little church soon outgrew it but it became their chapel and they built on a larger sanctuary so the little old church is still very servicable.

    Hi Rosemary:
    A great message! Especially for a difficult transition, which most of today’s congregations may all soon face.
    IMHO, the most important part of your Sacred Cow devotional was hidden:
    => the Sacred Cow comes from another religion -Hinduism- with a specific belief in the eternal life of our soul as experienced in reincarnation.
    Of course, God did not abandon others, either before or after Jesus came to Earth.
    And our different ways of worship must be as varied as divinity is vast.
    Congratulations to your 2 congregations for Being
    [god’s name as given to Moses, “the name by which all future generations are to call me”]

    So true Rosemary. I’ve seen many in my day.

    Thanks so much, Rosemary.
    That was a very good devotional.

    Dear Rosemary,
    I am an Anglican and I am so encouraged by your message of unity.
    I married a Roman Catholic and attended both Anglican and Roman Catholic services, there were many more similarities than differences. (And who doesn’t love the new Pope.)
    I continue to pray that “Someday may we all be one.”
    Thank you, again, for your messages of hope and inspiration.
    God’s blessings.

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