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Posts Tagged ‘space’

The Timeless One

Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. You turn us back to dust, and say, “Turn back, you mortals.” For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past, or like a watch in the night. Psalm 90:1-4

I had a revealing dream several years after my father’s death. He died suddenly, early on a  December morning, when I was 14. In the years that followed, a series of dreams haunted me where I knew he was present, but just out of sight. I would run to where he was, but by the time I got there, he would be gone. The revealing dream was this: My sister and I were looking out the front window of our home when I saw dad park the car and get out with a bag of groceries – and then I woke up (in more ways than one). The dream told me that one day, the years without my father will seem no more significant than the time apart from a trip to the grocery store. The reason this is true is that our experience of the passage of time is but a moment in the context of eternity.

Psalm 90 equates a thousand years to yesterday. Likewise, 2 Peter 3:8 tells us: “…with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day.” God time is not the same as human time. Here is a way we can perhaps visualize how this is possible. If we were two-dimensional beings – experiencing life only through height and width – we could only experience the third dimension (depth) in time. In other words, in any given moment we could see above and below, side to side, but not front or back. We would only be able to experience moving forward or backward in the passage of time. To us now, as three-dimensional beings, it is clear what lies immediately ahead for our two-dimensional friends because we can perceive all three dimensions at once. As the theory goes, we experience the next dimension beyond our physical reality in time. The question is this: What is the nature of the fourth dimension that we can only experience in time? When freed of our three-dimensionality, what expanded reality will be revealed to us, in the same way that depth appears to a two-dimensional being? I believe this is at the heart of our quandary, that our earth-bound perception is limited to three-dimensionality, and the mysterious reality beyond our experience unfolds for us in time.

The creation story in Genesis records that God created the earth and everything in it in six days. Some Christians believe creation occurred in 6 twenty-four hour periods, probably less than 10,000 years ago. Many scientists believe the creation occurred with a Big Bang about 13.8 billion years ago. For me, the question of which time frame is correct is irrelevant and unanswerable because time for the creator – the Timeless One – is inconceivable to us.

Albert Einstein proved, mathematically, that time is relative and not absolute. In other words, time is not a precise measurement that exists independent of our observation of it. In fact, in his later years, Einstein concluded that past, present, and future exist simultaneously in the fourth dimension, which he labeled as time-space. The point is this: Time, as we experience it, is only accurate in a limited way and for a limited cross-section of reality. When we are freed from the limitations of the earth-bound portion of our lives, the spans of decades, centuries, and eons will seem no longer than a trip to the grocery store.

All of this is to say that there is both biblical and scientific evidence that time is not as we believe, nor is the world we experience the entirety of everything created. Our lives are one part of an eternal creation that stretches from before our birth to beyond our physical death, when we will rejoin the Timeless One in an existence beyond earth-time.

Note: this is the sixteenth in a series of Life Notes on the Faces of God

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Life Notes

Filling Space

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself… Philippians 2:5-7a

Lately, I have been contemplating space – not the space of the universe, but the space in my life – or, more accurately, the lack thereof. I consider myself a busy person, but my busyness is largely illusionary. When something comes along that I find desirable, I usually find time for it. Often, those desirable things are sporting events – Royal’s games, Jayhawk basketball, Chief’s football – hardly world-changing priorities. I fill the space in my life with all sorts of distractions – television, social media, and don’t get me started on the limitless and time-sucking distractions awaiting on my smart phone. In reality, I often find myself filling space by killing time, fully understanding that to be a form of murder – time past cannot be reclaimed any more than a homicide victim can be brought back to life.

In the Preface to his book Immortal Diamond, Fr. Richard Rohr writes, “The goodness of God fills all the gaps of the universe, without discrimination or preference.” As I contemplate God filling the gaps of the universe, I realize that my obsession with filling the gaps in my life are preventing God from filling that space with grace. Why do I fear open space? Do I fear how God will fill that space if I do not keep myself occupied with lesser activities? Clearly, if God is to enter my life in any sort of meaningful way, there must be room for that entry.

Physicists tell us the universe, including the “solid” matter of the earth, is mostly space, within which is mass and energy. In 1905, Albert Einstein published his Special Theory of Relativity, expressed in the equation E = mc2, and defining the relationship between mass and energy. Mass, it has been said, is just energy that has been tightly compressed. In what may be a giant leap of simplistic reasoning, one could say that what we perceive as solid matter, such as our bodies, is compressed energy, with latent energy filling the spaces in between. Before I put anyone into a catatonic state of scientific indifference, let us substitute the word energy with the word spirit, as in the Spirit of God. What if our “solid” experience is just a condensed manifestation of the energy we call the Holy Spirit? Pervading the “space” between the solid objects in our world is Spirit, or in scientific terms, energy. This seems consistent with both science and theology, if only in my mind. Spirit/energy fills all the gaps with possibility and potential.

Rohr goes on to say, “Grace is not something God gives, grace is who God is.To experience that grace, we must allow ourselves the space for the Spirit to compress in us.

Come home to church this Sunday. Come empty; leave full.

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Righteous Boredom

Life Notes—October 11, 2012 

“The effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.  My people will abide in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.”  Isaiah 32:16-18 

Sometimes I act like a stimulation junkie.  It’s not enough to have the television on; often I am surfing the internet or playing games on my iPad at the same time.  When I take an evening walk, I check my email on my phone, usually several times.  I regularly read the newspaper and watch the news on television while I eat breakfast.  You get the picture—look up multitasking in the dictionary and you may find a picture of me, doing several things (poorly) at once.  It’s not that I am particularly good at focusing my attention on several things at once—I am not.  It is that I am easily bored and distracted.  Perhaps the most irritating and disrespectful manifestation of this is when I try to answer a question before the speaker has finished asking.  Sometimes I am simply intolerant of silence or too much space between words or images or other forms of stimulation or entertainment.

But the best comedians master the use of the pause.  The best public speakers know how to space their words and vary their cadence to lead the audience where they want them to go, intellectually and emotionally.  I admire writers who can artfully tell a story that keeps the reader hanging on, offering just enough information to hold intrigue, yet skillfully, steadily and often slowly building to a climax that ties everything together.  In art, as in life, there is inestimable beauty and depth in space.

I have difficulty staying in the moment because there is seemingly too much space in most moments.  Focusing on the “space” in my life is an on-going challenge.  Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God!”  Quietness.  Solitude.  Stillness.  These are the conditions in which we are most likely to encounter the Spirit.  When we clear our mind and focus on the space remaining we open ourselves to new insights and clearer perspectives, while also lowering our blood pressure and strengthening our immune system.  We open the door to other worlds; worlds where we can more clearly know a Savior stands beside us, whispering words of love and wisdom in our ear. Sometimes when I am distracted it seems I am literally trying to kill time, that precious and limited gift given each of us for our earthly journey.  Killing time, rather than immersing in it.

Tom is preaching downtown where Life worship is at 10:00 AM in Brady Hall and traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00 in the sanctuary.  Mitch will preach at the west campus where worship is at 9:00 and 11:00.  His sermon title is “Baggage,” based on Mark 10:23-31.

Come home to church this Sunday.  Journey into space with us…

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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