I took this picture of the setting sun a few years ago on a retreat that still brings a smile to my face. I gathered with a group of women after we had journeyed together for a year. The Retreat Home we gathered to was sacred space. The time, which included quite a bit of silence, provided breathing room for what God was speaking to me. I continue to feel loved by the words spoken over me by the group of women.
Today I am starting a Bible reading plan. As I started those familiar words in Genesis 1, I came across a phrase that never caught my attention before:
Here it is in the NIV.
14And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years…”
“…let them (lights in the sky) serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years,”
Different, in a God-mysterious-blessed-divine kinda way.
Sacred seasons, days, moments are thresholds. They are thresholds that remember the past in their beauty and truth and connection to one another. They are thresholds that separate the letting go of what was to grab ahold of what is to be. As I looked back on my year, it was the sacred times and celebrations that stood out to my soul… Adam’s 40th outdoor dinner birthday party… the retreat that I led… a big birthday for our eldest daughter… Christmas season…opening up the Tree by Water office…
God, from the VERY BEGINNING, set sacred times into the rhythm of our universe. If these sacred times are in the rhythms of the universe, I hope they make it into our human planners and calendars. What is important for God should be important for us.
Sacred times invite us to see the sacred in every moment. They provide space for us to slow down to set our priorities, our heart, our life into God’s rhythms.
I write this on New Year’s Eve. A threshold.
As you plan and dream about how you will spend your time and energy in 2019, I encourage you to ask yourself how you will set apart the sacred times of your life and the life of your Christian community.
A few questions to guide you:
How will you celebrate the birthdays in your life?
Are there any anniversaries you want to create space for? This may involve celebration or grieving.
What sacred times in the Christian calendar do you want to set apart this year?
What times of rest is God inviting you to?
For further study:
I love looking at the different translations. Here are a few of my go-to translations.
14And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years,
14 God spoke: “Lights! Come out!
Shine in Heaven’s sky!
Separate Day from Night.
Mark seasons and days and years,
14Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night. They will serve as signs Jr 10:2 for festivals Or for the appointed times and for days and years.
Psalm 104 is a lovely poem about our Creator and creation.
1-14O my soul, bless God!
God, my God, how great you are!
beautifully, gloriously robed,
Dressed up in sunshine,
and all heaven stretched out for your tent.
You built your palace on the ocean deeps,
made a chariot out of clouds and took off on wind-wings.
You commandeered winds as messengers,
appointed fire and flame as ambassadors.
You set earth on a firm foundation
so that nothing can shake it, ever.
You blanketed earth with ocean,
covered the mountains with deep waters;
Then you roared and the water ran away—
your thunder crash put it to flight.
Mountains pushed up, valleys spread out
in the places you assigned them.
You set boundaries between earth and sea;
never again will earth be flooded.
You started the springs and rivers,
sent them flowing among the hills.
All the wild animals now drink their fill,
wild donkeys quench their thirst.
Along the riverbanks the birds build nests,
ravens make their voices heard.
You water the mountains from your heavenly cisterns;
earth is supplied with plenty of water.
You make grass grow for the livestock,
hay for the animals that plow the ground.
14-23Oh yes, God brings grain from the land,
wine to make people happy,
Their faces glowing with health,
a people well-fed and hearty.
God’s trees are well-watered—
the Lebanon cedars he planted.
Birds build their nests in those trees;
look—the stork at home in the treetop.
Mountain goats climb about the cliffs;
badgers burrow among the rocks.
The moon keeps track of the seasons,
the sun is in charge of each day.
When it’s dark and night takes over,
all the forest creatures come out.
The young lions roar for their prey,
clamoring to God for their supper.
When the sun comes up, they vanish,
lazily stretched out in their dens.
Meanwhile, men and women go out to work,
busy at their jobs until evening.
24-30What a wildly wonderful world, God!
You made it all, with Wisdom at your side,
made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.
Oh, look—the deep, wide sea,
brimming with fish past counting,
sardines and sharks and salmon.
Ships plow those waters,
and Leviathan, your pet dragon, romps in them.
All the creatures look expectantly to you
to give them their meals on time.
You come, and they gather around;
you open your hand and they eat from it.
If you turned your back,
they’d die in a minute—
Take back your Spirit and they die,
revert to original mud;
Send out your Spirit and they spring to life—
the whole countryside in bloom and blossom.
31-32The glory of God—let it last forever!
Let God enjoy his creation!
He takes one look at earth and triggers an earthquake,
points a finger at the mountains, and volcanoes erupt.
33-35Oh, let me sing to God all my life long,
sing hymns to my God as long as I live!
Oh, let my song please him;
I’m so pleased to be singing to God.
But clear the ground of sinners—
no more godless men and women!
O my soul, bless God!