Somehow, I found myself shopping at Walmart the other day.  I can’t say I’m particularly proud of the fact that I was shopping there. The reason why I was there (as well as my resistance to being there!) is a long story and is outside of the scope of this post.

The ethics and ideals of shopping aside, there I was, pushing my 2-year old son in an oversized shopping buggy when, seemingly out of nowhere, he  started shouting a song at the top of his lungs.

Yes, right there in the middle of the produce section – somewhere between the genetically modified peppers and the biotech plums he started shouting this:

 Holy Holy Holy Lord! God of Power and Might!
Heaven and Earth of Your Glory are filled!
Hosanna in the Highest!

He continued in a voice that would make the best screamo-shouter blush:

Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna!

The reason our 2 year-olds know these ancient words that make up the first part of what is called the Sanctus so very well,  is because back in the Jeremiah Community in Toronto we used to sing a version of it by Canadian singer-songwriter Steve Bell at our Sunday afternoon Eucharist pretty much every week. It’s a part of the liturgy. The song was written in their hearts from week-after-week of singing it together in community. They love it, and often request it at home.

Several thousand kilometers from that intentional community in Toronto, there in the produce section of Walmart in our new hometown of Victoria B.C., I have to admit that I was actually a little bit embarrassed about his impromptu performance.  What might people think of this Christian intrusion into the secular temple of shopping?  Here we were in the temple of cheap consumer goods (at great cost to so many) – the big-box cathedral of choice.  How could he sing this, of all songs – here?

Yet somehow it worked.  My kid was intuitively contrasting his holy chant with the spiritual ambiguity and vacuousness of the place and space – somehow managing to make even this big-box temple holy ground – by simply, passionately invoking these ancient, holy words in song.

There, those words derived from an prophetic account of angelic six-winged Seraphim singing along with all the Saints – words invoked at most every sacred Eucharist in many holy places great and small around the world every day – gave me reason for deep pause.

(It even reminded me of a so-called ‘fresh expression’ of church I read about some time ago where Anglo-Catholics decided to hold Sunday mass in a big-box supermarket in the U.K. )

All of it made me think. Perhaps there can be a sacrament in pretty much any moment.  In any place. Anywhere.

Words sung with passion and with no restraint there at Walmart.  The sacrament of praise at the shopping mall.

Nope, there’s no keeping the Spirit down.  Even if I had shushed my son down, somehow, in some way, the rocks, the squash, the peppers and plums would cry out from their bins:

Hosanna!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!

There, for a moment, that dualism of sacred and profane collapsed for me.  For my son, it didn’t matter where he was – he was worshipping God almighty – and whether he grasped the implications and context didn’t really matter.

I imagined all the Angels and Saints singing along (and perhaps they were!).

And even with my post-liberal, post-evangelical restraint I just couldn’t help by being proud and even started to (quietly) worship along.

I looked around.  Funny enough, no one even knew what we were singing.   Here in ultra-secular BC, there was no one in those crowded aisles within earshot who knew of those ancient words; who could, with me, embrace that moment of great and wonderful holy paradox.

Nonetheless, we continued along in our worship in that now-sacred space, with him continuing to sing the Sanctus lustily and with good courage – right there in the bustling produce section of the Walmart.

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