Summer 2010 reading


Time, like an ever rolling stream

Picture © Patrick Hoff

Chapter 8, the final chapter of Receiving the Day, ends with a description of a funeral.  It is appropriate that Bass would conclude her book about time with this inescapable truth:  at some point, we all run out of time.  In her discussion of Psalm 90, traditionally understood as “a prayer of Moses,” Bass describes how these verses “bring together two kinds of time–our short sigh and God’s mountainous eternity–together” (121).

My favorite paraphrase of Psalm 90 is found in the beloved hymn “O God, Our Help in Ages Past.”  Despite our commitment to inclusive language at FC, I’d like to offer up Watts’s original words.  For me, the old language makes the hymn’s themes even more poignant; the poet may be long dead, but his spirit endures through these verses…

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The wheel goes round and round…

The Liturgical Calendar

The Liturgical Cycle (source: www.marypages.org)

If you’ve ever felt curious about or confused by the Christian liturgical calendar, I highly recommend Chapter 6 of Receiving the Day. Dorothy Bass vividly describes the seasons and cycles that make up the church year, as well as their origins and traditional meanings.  She also poignantly describes how the liturgical year has given shape and meaning to important periods in her own life.  Over the course of a particular two years, for example, the story of Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection helped Bass overcome isolation and despair in the wake of a failed relationship:

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Parking and other deep thoughts

Of all the reflections in Chapter 5 of Receiving the Day, this one on page 66 really stood out to me:

Jürgen Moltmann, an eminent German theologian, ended his book on the theology of creation with a radical suggestion:  “The ecological day of rest should be a day without pollution of the environment–a day when we leave our cars at home, so that nature too can celebrate its Sabbath.”  Fifty years ago, before the building of the freeways and the suburbs, many American Christians might have found in this suggestion an endorsement of their way of life.  Then, churches had small parking lots and served neighborhoods or parishes, and people walked.  But things have changed.  Read more »

Making time

Sabbath-keeping, for our family, is more about what we do than what we don’t do.  For us, Sabbath is about choosing to make time for the things that renew us.   Most Fridays, we sleep as long as we want to (in Eliza’s case) or as long as possible (in the case of her parents).  We enjoy a leisurely breakfast together.  We relax and read the paper on the porch.  We sit on the floor and play.  Long walks and talks are a crucial part of the day — whether we amble through our neighborhood and down along the river, or venture further for an adventure at our favorite county and state parks.   We often have friends over for a meal, or meet at a restaurant for dinner.  The main idea of the Sabbath, for us, is to settle into a pace that isn’t rushed.

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What do you need?

Chapter 3 of Receiving the Day seems, most essentially, about making choices.  Dorothy Bass encourages the reader to exercise choice about how we use our bodies throughout the day.  I liked the connection she drew between respecting our bodies and “honoring the integrity of each twenty-four-hour period” (32).  If we make choices throughout the day that correspond to our bodies’ needs for nourishment, rest, and exercise, then we live with hearts and minds open to possibility.

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What time is it?

A few weeks ago, Jane blogged about reading the first chapter of Receiving the Day while en route to my ordination.  She described the irony of reading about sacred time while caught up in air travel hell.  As I read chapter 2, “This Is the Day that God Made,” I’m caught in a similar tension.  Bass writes about how we divide up our days into hours and minutes, frantically rushing to fill those slots in “appropriate” and “productive” ways.  She then encourages creating a different kind of rhythm for ourselves–a pattern of thought, prayer, and worship that remind us about our relationship with God and the gift of each day.  I was grateful that Bass admits she herself struggles to follow this practice (pp. 23-4)–because God knows I do too!  Indeed, as I write this blog post, my mind is racing with countless obligations, commitments, and to-do lists.

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Our summer reading

Hi folks. This is the book that Jane and I will be reading and blogging on this summer, if you want to follow along!  Just click the image to go to the book’s page at amazon.com.  Receiving the Day

Peace, Abby