What is your oblation?
For many, oblation is a strange word. Oblation was an odd word for me when I first heard it spoken.
The first time I heard the word oblation, it was in the form of a question just as I have presented it to you. My reply to the question was, “What do you mean by an oblation?”
An oblation is an act of worship. An oblation is an offering to God. An oblation is a presentation to God.
Consider our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As an act of worship and obedience, Jesus offered himself to God. Jesus sacrificed himself. His body was a living sacrifice. As the Apostle Paul described, He, who was equal with God, humbled himself and offered his life on the cross. The obedience of Jesus that led to death on the cross was the oblation of Christ.
While you and I may never offer ourselves in the manner of Christ, each day we can present an oblation to God.
The person who asked me about my oblation explained that an oblation is an offering that comes out of the time we spend with God.
I have come to understand that my time with God is a gift. Every opportunity I am given to study God’s word, reflect, and prayer is a gift from God in itself. Out of that time, I take what God has given me and present it back to God for his use. My presentation may take the shape of visiting the sick, caring for the poor, or helping my neighbor. It may be that I share the wisdom I have gained with other people.
Seeing your time with God in this way changes the perspective of bible study and prayer. No longer is reading scripture and reflection about what we get out of it for ourselves. Rather, our devotionals are viewed as a means of discovering what we will offer to God in return.
Your oblation in not limited to daily acts of worship. Often, your life becomes your oblation. It is not contained within your learnings from a daily devotional. As your life is transformed by God, you discover how to offer your life to God.
A monastic practice is to engage in a season of spiritual discernment. After a period of reading and prayer (days, weeks, and months even), under the guidance of a spiritual director, one discovers a specific offering to give to God – an oblation. There is direct correlation to this practice and the term “oblate” used to describe those discerning ministry, priesthood, or a monastic vocation.
Understanding oblation can transform your spiritual disciplines and practices. Simple things such as attending a worship service can take on a new meaning. Going to church becomes something different. No longer are you going because you have some sense of duty or obligation, or even because you want to be reinvigorated in your faith. You go anticipating what God is going to give to you, so you can present it back. How you give it back is the question.
What is it going to be? What is your oblation?