Earthly Time Punctured by Eternity

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Our guest blog today is from Bishop Dan Scott, a Bishop in the Anglican Mission in America. He is the Senior Pastor of Christ Church Nashville, and will be with us this coming Sunday to preach the Word during both services. We are a few weeks into the season of Ordinary Time, and the blog below is +Dan’s reflection on this season and why it is crucial that we truly understand what it means. His original blog was from May 21, 2018.

Yesterday was Pentecost. That means we have entered Ordinary Time, the season in which we put into practice what we have learned during Advent, Epiphany, Lent, and Pentecost.

Modern Western culture was the result of abandoning the idea that the calendar can be sacramental, that daily life can be punctured by a day (or a season) set apart to put us in touch with the Eternal. By making this move, Western culture entered something like a never–ending ordinary time but without any Eternal content to work into everyday life. Western Man became homo economicus, Man perpetually centered upon either selling or buying.

The word secular comes from the Latin saeculum, which mean something like ‘worldly.’ That word was in turn derived from saecularis, which meant time, or season. Secularism was thus conceived as a way or relating to our walk through nature as a non-sacramental experience, as something utterly free from any sort of transforming Grace. Christmas became a mid-Winter break; Easter became a celebration of Spring; Pentecost became Mother’s Day, and so forth. In secular time, we don’t ‘lift our hearts,’ we continually keep our noses to the grindstone. There is no real Sabbath because the wheels of commerce never cease.

Even by entering Ordinary Time then, we are not entering the same space as our secular friends. We enter it only after having ‘tasted of the powers of the world to come.’ Having looked into the radiant realities of the resurrection, ascension, and Pentecost, we now return to the natural world to see that what we once thought was the everyday world of matter is actually a sacramental revelation of the glory of God. Seeing Nature this way, we engage it as stewards and as grateful participants of its blessings.

We enter Ordinary Time knowing that we are walking through the Circle of Life by which year after year leads on to Eternity. The Cross tells us that death, toward which the cycle moves us, is inescapable. However, the resurrection tells us that death does not have the final word. The trees that grew bare and dry during Winter bursts with new life in the Spring. And, in a real sense, so do we. As we do, we get a taste of a coming Spring in which the entire cosmos will someday erupt with the Life that has overcome death.

We steward our time and money in the light of these realities. We cut the grass and plan our work with the awareness of ultimate things. Grace has shined through Nature and revealed its role in teaching us the importance of Beauty, Goodness and Truth.

This is why in Ordinary Time, we turn theory into practice. We work, just like our secular friends, but experience our work as a vocation, as a calling, and not merely as an occupation. For we are not merely occupying space and time, as though we were homo economicus, that is to say economic-man. No, we are homo sapiens, ‘knowing-man;’ ‘wise-man.’ The reason we are sapiens and not merely economicus is that we are been in the presence of Eternity. We have felt tongues of fire on our heads, seen a Star in the East, heard the angels at the tomb tell us ‘he is not here; he has risen.”

Our earthly time has been punctured by Eternity; Nature has been illuminated by grace. Occupation has become vocation.

That is why the world during Ordinary Time is turning green, growing, becoming fruitful.

And, if we pay attention to the Grace pouring through Nature, so are we!

A blessed Ordinary Time to you all,

+ Dan