Hallowing The Ephemeral
*what follows is a continuation of the discussion here at the Diner on my reading “The Shaping of Things to Come: Innovation and Mission for the 21st-Century Church,” by Michael Frost & Alan Hirsch. Feel free to check out the past three entries before you dive in to this one. It’ll give you some context.
My day yesterday:
I drove to work. Frank Turner’s new CD was running through it’s 3rd listening and I got two songs in before I got there.
I got some paperwork done.
I had a friend spontaneously stop by my office as she was making copies and we chatted about The Diner’s topic o’ conversation as of late.
I studied/prepped for my sermon coming up on Sunday.
I checked the tires/gassed up my car for my daughter’s weekend trip to Austin for a wedding she’s attending. She repaid me by letting me buy her lunch.
I studied/prepped some more.
I had a serious conversation with a student who is in crisis.
I picked up dinner for the fam.
I got all sports-intensive watching both the Rangers and Mavs.
I got a late-night phone call from a former student in crisis…and went to bed much later than planned (note later blog entry time…good thing today’s my off day and I could sleep in a bit!).
Nothing particularly special, right?
Well, according to the authors, it should all be viewed as incredibly special…first they quote Martin Buber in his 1958 book I and Thou and then expound on it:
One should, and one must, truly live with all people and things, but one must live with all these in holiness, one must hallow all which one does in one’s natural life. No renunciation is commanded. When one eats in holiness, when one tastes the flavor of the food in holiness, then the table becomes an altar. When one works in holiness, he raises up the sparks that hide themselves in all tools. When one walks in holiness across the field then the soft songs of all herbs, which they voice to God, enters into the song of our soul. When one drinks in holiness to each other with one’s companions, it is as if one read together in the Torah. When once dances the roundelay in holiness, brightness shines over the gathering. When a husband is united with his wife in holiness, then the Shekinah rests over them.”
And now the author’s commentary:
“A positive post-Jesus Jewish mysticism holiness is active in the world. It is a missional holiness. It moves to change the world, to sanctify it. This is not an ephemeral thing; it is active in every sphere of life and does not shirk back from the redemption of dark things. Holiness partners with God in the redemption of the world, “True holiness is when God’s hallowing of the world and our hallowing of the world meet (quoting Buber again).”
First, a little housekeeping to help out:
“Hallow” means to set something apart for holy use.
“Ephemeral” means lasting a short time.
Now the authors have moved into a discussion of what it is we should emulate about Christ that would be attractive to non-believers…and I’m kinda glad they did. Now we can have happier coffee discussions here at The Diner.
So, in effect, they kind of get all Carpe Diem here…but there’s something that rings true with me in it. This idea of the proper perspective on life in this world while we’re waiting for our King to come back…a “kingdom perspective.”
All of a sudden, this fantastic music stirs something in my soul even if I happen to disagree with the singer’s point of view (and, sure, there’s a lot of it I deeply relate to as well). My life is deeper because of that 10 minutes of music on the drive to work.
The paperwork matters to people I live this life with…because most of it is how we’re doing life together.
A drop in at the office and a spontaneous conversation about how we’re doing as a church family on doing this life together is both doing life-together and maybe encouraging to each other as we do life together.
My sermon prep involves a lot of talking/listening to God Himself in my little cube-office, and thinking about how God might move in the lives of those that hear it Sunday morning. I’m thinking about people I love and how it might help them love and walk with Christ a little more deeply. I know it’s just a sermon…but still. That encounter with God could shape the Kingdom in who knows how many ways, right? My struggles with the text and the editing of what I want to say are indeed “hallow.”
Checking the air pressure and saving my little girl a step (and some cash) by putting gas in the tank became “hallow,” didn’t it? I mean, we got to enjoy some Chipotle outside in nice (well, by Texas standards, nice. Only 85 at the time.) weather and talk about her hopes and dreams and plans and moves of God in her life.
Serious discussions with students and former students are hard, but it’s a chance to use my gifts and talents to use hard words, and/or encouraging words, and/or hopeful words and depend on God for those words, even if it’s right there in my living room or on the phone with somebody 600 miles away.
Grabbing dinner for my wife (and getting to hear two more Frank Turner songs–I made another copy of the CD since my other one was on the way to Austin) after a hard day at work for her, the opportunity to serve her even if I didn’t FEEL like serving…knowing that choice to love/serve honors my King…
The excitement and drama of the sports I was watching made me feel alive, man. My heart was racing and I even appreciated the true art of a Dirk high-arching 3-pointer followed by the “agony of defeat” of the Ranger bullpen…AGAIN. And the home team won, which was exciting, even if I don’t have huge emotional investment.
And, finally, after the long phone call, I crawled in bed with the wife asleep, dog at the foot of the bed, and I got to read more of this book with my cool new reading light…and fall asleep kind of prayerfully thinking about even more stuff (I even thought it might be better for my sermon if I just took a few weeks and read this book aloud to the congregation).
So, in retrospect, the day was “ephemeral” but “hallow.”
And I think the reason so many Christians get it wrong is because they make a division between their “Christian” life and their “other” life. Somehow, over time, we’ve let the fact that there are Christian bookstores and Christian radio station and Christian clothes (yes, I’ve got girls in my group that have their “church swimsuit” and their “regular” one) and Christian music…
…that they yawn at what they should be awed by.
…that they have forgotten to see the hallow in the every day of their life.
…that they expect those that aren’t in the Tribe to adhere to the codes of the Tribe, which only frustrates everyone involved.
…that they can experience the movement of the Most High God in the beauty of a marinated steak, or a beautiful arching 3-pointer that hits nothing but net, or studying His words, or a great anthem-arena-rock song, or a movie that moves you that didn’t even have Christian themes, or a great novel, or a conversation with friends that didn’t even talk about Jesus but had lots of laughter and maybe even a few beers, or stopping on your run to take photos and sharing them with your blog community (I’ve got a friend that does this), or starting a blog (yes, I’m talking to you), or loving confrontation, or sending out announcements…
..I could go on…
…but if we’re going to engage the lost, well, kids, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again until we’re all singing off the same page…
…the days of “presuppositional apologetics” and trying to win those that don’t know Christ with rational arguments and reason are long gone. They are important, and can help when it comes to answering questions all people eventually ask once they start walking with God…
…but if we’re going to want others to follow our King–the same King that had the nation of Israel spend one night during the festival making sure the music was loud and the drinks flowed and the Temple was well-lit (“I am the light of the World makes a lot more sense when you know Jesus was saying this as they were getting prepared for the necessary fires) for an all-night party so the world would note that the Israelite God knows how to make sure his children Carpe Diem–
(–and we reduce wedding receptions to no alcohol and cheese and fruit?–I digress)
…we’re going to have to start out-living them with the abundant life…
…the sensual, redemptive abundant life Christ lived and meant for us…
…before a watching world.
And it all starts with the ephemeral hallowing.
You with me? Or do you disagree?
So, what are you waiting for?