Marking and Measuring Time : in grace and gratitude

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This summer I attended a course at college called The Meaning of the Sacraments – which I really enjoyed. Mostly we talked about what baptism and communion mean – the two common sacraments the church celebrates all over the world. However, one of the texts we read was For the Life of the World by Alexander Schmemann – who is an orthodox priest. His theology has a whole-of-the-cosmos-focus and he works hard to challenge the modern separation of the ‘sacred’ and the ‘secular’ realms of human life. After reading his chapter ‘The Time of Mission’, I felt invited to conduct my own reflections on the sacramental nature of time.

What followed was my major paper*. I followed the line that rather than seeing time as a wearisome burden, perhaps we are invited to understand the times and seasons given to us by God as gift. If so, perhaps there are ways we can ‘mark’ time regularly and cyclically – using repeated rhythms and rituals as well as moments of special attention and celebration.

These photos are of homemade lavender cake – a late birthday gift for a lovely (and patient!) friend. I know I have written about cake so many times but I after researching my paper a few years ago they seem so important as a way of marking a special day with special food. We put the best of our ingredients together to make something beyond basic fare because the people we have been given to walk with are gifts to us, we want to mark their milestones, to party with them, to be thankful for them.

Writing this paper was such a gift to me – I had always had a hunch that there was more to birthdays than what met the eye – the cake, the presents, the balloons – these matter because they are a way of delighting in God’s gifts to us – in particular, the person we love and are celebrating.

If you too would like a theological reason for partying – or if you have always felt called by the mountains on your horizon to look to God for help – this paper may also interest you.

*A pdf of my paper is below:
tomarknotmeasuretimeasagiftofgrace

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The Story and a beginning

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In honour of making it to the end of first week of Regent I thought I would share this song. Asher and I wrote it together at Compass Conference (now Venn Summer Conference) as a reflection on the week’s teaching – hopefully it will continue to be the first of many (see this other post) with him as composer and me as lyricist – it is a fun combination! Anyhow, he rewrote the lyrics of an older song as a demonstration of his evolving understanding of God’s story, told in the Bible. That unfolding Story is held in high esteem at Regent – one of the reasons why I am particularly thrilled to be here. Anyhow maybe you’ll enjoy it too!

Here is what he said about it;

This song is a re-write of a piece I wrote in ’09 (I think). My wife re-wrote the lyrics last year at Compass Summer Conference (www.venn.org.nz). We had been reflecting on the Creation, Fall, Redemption Story of the Bible and decided to try and put that into a form we could present at the creative presentation night. I felt like I had grown since I wrote the song and wanted to revise my thoughts about how God has not created me to endure this life and then get out of here but to try and be a part of building his kingdom and then looking forward to his coming when he will come and dwell with us:

“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Rev 21:1-4

Originally the song was called ‘Heaven is Home’ but Compass was the culmination of me realising that our deepest rest is in God himself and we look forward to his final ‘Mend of the World’. Heaven is when we will finally be with Christ and I look forward to that day.

– Asher

Heaven’s Coming Home

Good morning,
Creations waiting for a word
Skies and seas and rocks and birds
Beauty spoken seen and heard

My darlings,
Welcome to this world its time
To rule this place dear child of mine
Bless, tend, keep and be a sign

Oh, Creation is His throne,
Full of Love He’s shown,
Made to be our home
Made to be our home

Where are you?
Covered now we feel ashamed
Creation feels the weight of pain
What once was joyful now is strained

Lost
Wandering through this desert land,
Everything I taste is bland,
Dare we hope there is a plan?

Oh, we’re longing for a home,
A place to cease our roam,
Are we left alone?
Are we left alone?

He came,
Though He was not recognised,
To fix the broken, shame the wise,
Free the captives, open eyes.

Dying,
Heavens precious only Son,
For the broken, distant ones,
The sacrifice at last was done.

Oh, ascended to the Throne,
Our Father can be known
An invitation home,
An invitation home.

Don’t worry,
Restoration is to come,
Transformation will be done,
Blessing, wholeness, for gathered ones.

At last,
Redemptions story will be told,
Rest and peace as was foretold
Creation once more shot with gold.

Oh, Creation is His throne,
Never on our own,
Heavens coming home,
Heavens coming home