Saturday, March 17, 2012

Time is the Medium of our Salvation

(Note- I'm using Lent and Easter Wisdom from Thomas Merton as my Lenten devotional this year. I'll be blogging the journaling prompts most days.)

To say that the redemption is an ever present spiritual reality is to say that Christ has laid hold upon time and sanctified it, giving it a sacramental character, making it an efficacious sign of our union with God in Him. So, "time" is a medium which makes the fact of redemption present to all men. ~Seasons of Celebration, p. 49

With whom do you most "share time"? With whom should you be sharing more time?

This seems like a leading question. I think the "right" answer is to say that I spend the most time with my family, friends, job, etc., and that I need to be sharing more time with God.

But that canned answer reinforces the bifurcated sacred/secular understanding that has more roots in Plato and gnosticism than in a genuinely Judeo-Christian understanding of the creation.

That last sentence is a mouthful of seminary speak. Let me explain.

If I assume that time that I spend with my family, friends, at my job, on hobbies, etc., is not "time shared with God", then I'm saying that God is only present in specific times and places- in church, when the pages of my Bible are open, or when I'm by myself having some quiet time. In essence, I'm having a very limited view of God.

But one of the running themes throughout the Bible is the un-limitedness of God. God gets upset with the worship of idols because people are giving something limited, therefore controllable, the adoration due to that which is ultimate. They're putting something far less than God in the place of God. So if I'm only "sharing time" with God in those unique moments, then the god I'm sharing time with isn't God, because that god is too small.

As Merton puts it, "Christ has laid hold upon time and sanctified it". I think he's talking primarily in the cosmic sense, but this is demonstrated in the incarnation of Jesus, as well.

Jesus lived the fullness of the human experience. He experienced joy and laughter, as well as pain, suffering, and death. The life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus claims that not only is God present in every single moment of our lives, but God also has the last word in what it all means.

So if I truly believe the claims made by the incarnation and the Resurrection, then all time is time shared with God. The only question is whether I am aware of that or not.

When I forget this, I treat everything like I own it, as if it exists solely for my benefit. But when I am aware that every thing and every moment is infused with God's presence, then I treat everything as a gift, over which I have a sacred trust and for which I am accountable to God for how I handle it.

So maybe a better question is, how aware am I of who is present in all the moments of my life, and what do I need to do to make myself aware of what's really going on?

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