Why has sacrifice, by and large, disappeared from the world?'
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
When we hear the words ‘priest’ and ‘sacrifice’ what do we think of? If we think of them at all, we think of ‘priest’ as what we don’t call our ministers, in opposition to Roman Catholics, and of ‘sacrifice’ as something you give up for the sake of something else.
But we also don’t think much of the words, ‘priest’ and ‘sacrifice,’ because human beings don’t offer sacrifices as such anymore. Sacrifice was everywhere in the ancient world. Every culture offered some sort of sacrifice to their gods – sacrifices of the first of the grain or fruit, sacrifices of animals, even sacrifices of human beings. People would offer sacrifices for many things – for the return of the spring, for instance; for fertile fields and fertile wombs; in thanksgiving for the harvest, and for atonement for sin, both individual and communal.
Why has sacrifice, by and large, disappeared from the world? The answers are manifold. Many people believe that sacrifice has disappeared from the world because there is no God to whom to sacrifice. Human beings have developed beyond the need for a god, in their view. They believe that with the advent of science, people understand that sacrifices are not necessary or effective in delivering the goods of the world.
Other people believe that there is a God, or that there are gods, but that he or they have revealed that there is no need for sacrifice, that what God demands is moral living and justice and well-doing. Certainly in the Bible we have that understanding: ‘He has told you, O man, what is good, and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?’
But there is a third understanding, which is the one given in the letter to the Hebrews. The writer is trying to explain to his fellow Jews why he believes they don’t need the Temple any more, which has been destroyed by the Romans, the Temple with its sacrifices and priests. His answer is not that there is no god, nor is it that God doesn’t want sacrifice. His answer is that the great high priest has come, and the final sacrifice for sin has been made, and that therefore there is no more need for priests or a temple.
Indeed, this is the meaning of the Lutheran saying, ‘the priesthood of all believers.’ It is not that all who have faith are therefore called to be pastors and to preach. Some have far higher callings. But all believers are called to pray for others before God and to offer their own lives as a living sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to God, in service to their neighbors. Since we believe that Christ has offered himself once for all for our sins, both priest at the sacrifice and himself the offering, let us continue to have this attitude of serving sacrifice, seeking at every opportunity to be of use to our neighbors and to glorify Jesus, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
 Micah 6:8.
 Psalm 110.
 Eucharistic Prayer III, LBW.
 Romans 12:1-2 ESV.
 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, ‘Service.’