I must admit, I didn’t know quite what to expect yesterday morning, but I knew I already felt like a survivor. I had made my way through a torrential downpour and dazzling lightning display to the Congregations Project opening session–tested by water and fire, just like the Israelites, I thought to myself. What else lay ahead?! While there are many thoughts swirling around in my head in response to the conversations and lectures from Day 1, I keep coming back to the sense of electric energy that seemed to fill every individual in the room, keeping our eyes rapt with attention, and our words earnest with excitement. This energy made me eager see how this theme of ‘Keeping Time’ would unfold in the brief week we have together.
The congregation I’m working with as a student reporter is Trinity Presbyterian Church of Denton, TX, whose project is geared toward appropriating the idea of time as Sabbath-keeping. Our breakfast conversation was filled with questions about ways to understand Sabbath that would promote flourishing congregations in the face of a cultural narrative of efficiency, success and progress. How do we understand the concept of Enough, when everything around us screams MORE?!! How can we begin to understand the varied meaning time as Sabbath can hold for the aged retiree and working parent alike?
In their opening remarks, Dorothy Bass and Don Saliers gave us glimpses into how we can begin to wrestle with our mysterious life ‘in time,’ despite our transient and fleeting existence. Dorothy talked about creative senses of time–those of music, discernment and even language–and the ways in which engaging with these arts grants confidence and meaning to our temporality. Despite our best efforts to control time, however, she also cautioned us that God’s time is disruptive, and that faithful living must always remain open to that disruption. Similarly, Don Saliers used an image of the crucified Christ to weave together layers of time within one place–natural time, communal time, and metaphysical time all bound up together with the Incarnation. It is in liturgy of Jesus Christ, occurring over time and through time that we are brought into an eschatological time of sanctification, a time that we participate in through the liturgical year. Saliers named the Church year as the way that we ‘keep time’ with Jesus, day by day, week by week, in our rhythms of meeting, feeding, praying and singing. Imagining every moment as now for God allows us to think about our lives as God does, as ever-present and entirely full.
This ‘fullness of time’ has lingered in my heart and mind, and it gives me comfort to know that by entering our transient time and space, that Christ granted time a profound, dignified significance. My hope is that as the Congregations Project continues, each moment would be filled to the brim with God’s sense of time–an electric fullness that is more than enough for every moment of our lives.