The Currency of Time and Place

My rather eclectic reading pile…

The Transition Team is reading and discussing a book entitled Holy Currencies and I have been preaching on it. It is written by Eric Law, an Episcopal priest. We are accustomed to think of ‘currency’ as money.

He redefines it in this way: The word currency comes from the Medieval Latin word currentia which literally means “a flowing,” and from the Latin word currere which means “to run or flow.” It was John Locke in 1699 who first used the word currency to refer to circulation of money. Since then, the word currency in the English language has been used most often as referring to money. Merriam-Webster.com defines currency as “something that is in circulation as a medium of exchange.” P. 10/11

As he explored and researched sustainable ministries, he found over and over that there were other currencies in place.

He called these the Cycle of Blessings; we have already explored

  • The currency of gracious leadership
  • The currency of relationship
  • The currency of truth
  • The currency of wellness

Today I am exploring the currency of time and place and next week will focus on the currency of money. I am not sure that we often think of our places, our church places, as being a sort of currency. The bottom half of our church building is used quite widely as currency, as a medium of exchange.

  • For food bank
  • For yoga
  • For meetings both internal and external
  • For cubs/scouts
  • For fundraisers
  • For voting and other community gatherings.

And we are doing some refreshing of some downstairs spaces right now to be ready for when we can once again start using our building and welcoming others into it.

But there is another part of the building that is rarely used other than Sunday mornings… the sanctuary. What additional ways might we use that space? What other ways might it be configured in order for it to be an asset to the community as well as to us?

I’ve been in the church building almost every week since the pandemic started since I’m usually on hand for Food Bank on Wednesdays. I water the plants, print what I need printed, and usually spend some time in the sanctuary. Sometimes imagining all the people over the decades who have worshipped there. Sometimes imagining the prayer soaked walls. Sometimes imagining what God is calling us to do in this time and place.

Sometimes crying out “WHERE ARE YOU God!” And I imagine how often these words from Psalm 105 have been heard:

105:1 O give thanks to the LORD, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples. 105:2 Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wonderful works. 105:3 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice. 105:4 Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually. 105:5 Remember the wonderful works he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered. 105:6 O offspring of his servant Abraham, children of Jacob, his chosen ones. 105:23 Then Israel came to Egypt; Jacob lived as an alien in the land of Ham. 105:24 And the LORD made his people very fruitful, and made them stronger than their foes, 105:25 whose hearts he then turned to hate his people, to deal craftily with his servants. 105:26 He sent his servant Moses, and Aaron whom he had chosen. 105:45b Praise the LORD!

Praise the Lord! We can praise God anywhere… and any time…I’m just realizing that perhaps one of the hymns we should be singing is Praise the Lord with the Sound of Trumpet. One of the lines is ‘Praise the Lord anytime and anywhere.’ I know for some of you being in the sanctuary, allows you to come into God’s presence in ways that are familiar and accessible. And this time of virtual worship or reading the bulletin and sermon at home just isn’t the same. We miss the relationships with each other and the sense of the holy that is in the sanctuary. But God is still God. As it is written in Genesis 1:31, “God saw everything that God had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. God made everything, so there is NOWHERE that God is not.

That’s why I invited you to send in pictures of places that remind you of God. You can still do that… I haven’t used them this week, but I will in an upcoming week. I also encourage you to create a space in your living space, it doesn’t have to be large or elaborate. It might have a candle, a Bible, a quote, a special object. Maybe it’s your computer… as we have been connected to each other and to others through this means. Anything that reminds you of God’s presence. In your place. God is there… trust me. And since we are speaking of the currencies as part of the cycle of blessings, think of your sacred place as a place to be renewed and refreshed to in order to be a blessing to others. There are so many more sacred spaces than the inside of a church building, I invite and challenge each one of you to spend some time to experience a sacred place and then share it with me in the coming week.

Annie Dillard, in The Writing Life, says, “How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives.” I am struck by those words as the pandemic stretches into almost six months. How we spend our days, is how we spend our lives. How are you spending these pandemic days? Some had to learn some new skills pretty quickly. Some took up baking bread. Some appreciated the suspension of a life grown too busy and crowded with obligations. And then we looked up and almost six months has passed and there is no end in sight and we know that normal isn’t ever coming back. And we may be tired, worried, anxious, depressed or sleepless. Or all of the above! These days are not normal, so give yourself permission to not be as productive as you may have been six months ago. Your worth is not dependent on your productivity. Keep these things from Romans 12 in mind:

12:9 Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 12:10 Love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. 12:11 Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 12:13 Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. 12:14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 12:16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. 12:17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 12:18 If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Part of me would like to just end with those words, but I believe I would be remiss if I failed to mention the ongoing sin of racism in our time and place.

Not what is happening south of the border, but what is happening right here in Nova Scotia. In just the last couple of weeks here in Nova Scotia, three separate incidences of overt racism have been reported:

  • The word ‘noose’ spray painted on a power pole in front of a black family’s home.
  • A mixed race family enjoying swimming in Chester harassed by noose swinging young men.

12:9 Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 12:18 If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Those two verses, which started and ended the reading struck me in a profound way last evening as I was finishing my sermon. Too often I get caught up in being a nice Christian instead of a faithful Christian, one who confronts evil. I hate the evil of racism and I haven’t been able to identify the emotion that I have that so much of the history we are taught has been literally white-washed. Is it shame, embarrassment, discomfort, I don’t know.

I am taking heart that 17 people signed up this summer for Be the Bridge; an anti-racism program where we just scratched the surface of:

1. White Supremacy
2. White Fragility
3. White Identity
4. White Privilege

We had great discussions that were sometimes uncomfortable, we had interest in further engagement, and a deep desire for practical suggestions for things we could do right now. Laura Hunter, the Regional Minister for Justice and Mission, took on the challenge and created a list of 101 things; I’ll share that list via email. On that list is something for everyone! Imagine if each one of us committed to doing just ONE thing on that list! One thing that is anti-racist. (I am reading one chapter every day in a book about racism or a book by a person of colour) And doing it consistently.

I struggled with how to connect the currency of time and place to racism, but suddenly this morning, after a cup of coffee, it made sense. The whole idea of the cycle of blessings is that they are not static. That they circulate and flow. Individually, we spend time… learning about racism… We begin to dig deeper into white supremacy, realizing that all of us who have white skin benefit from it. We become aware… we no longer hide behind our masks of ignorance. We make mistakes… and we pick ourselves up and start again… As a congregation, in the future, we can provide space for learning and engaging with our community. And the cycle of blessings continues.

12:9 Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good;

Thanks be to God for the challenge and the opportunity of being God’s people in this time and place. Amen.

Psalm 105 – Selected Verses

Romans 12: 9-18

August 30, 2020 – SMUC

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