Thursday, January 27, 2011

Time, Space, and Holiness

All the days of creation are concerned with the creation of matter in various states: light, land, plants, animals, etc. And the days "stack" up on top of each other. The first day is the creation of light and darkness: Day and Night. And that is necessarily the beginning of the "evening and morning" cycle. But every day after the first day stacks up on top of the first day, experiencing an "evening and morning." The rest of creation does the same. While it is not explicitly mentioned in every detail, later days assume the presence of the former days.

Waters are gathered together in one place on day 3 from the ones that were separated to form the firmament on day 2. Stars and lights are set in the firmament on day 4, and birds fly across the face of the firmament on day 5. The earth that God formed on day 3 is used for the forming of the animals and man on day 6 and so on. The days stack up.

This has implications for our understanding of time. The past penetrates into the present and the future. Time stacks up.

But what the first six days indicate is that time is a kind of space. There is "room" in a day for a certain amount of work, a certain amount of *stuff*, but God builds, plants, forms, separates, and names within the "space" of a creation day.

But then God does something radically different on the seventh day. On the seventh day God stops working, He stops creating, and He sanctifies, makes holy the seventh day because He rested from all of His work which He had created.

In one space of time, God planted a garden. In another space of time, God formed the oceans. In another space of time, God painted the birds and invented fish.

But when God stops working, the "space" is filled not with "nothing" since the nothingness has been displaced by creation. Rather, the "space" of the seventh day continues to be filled by "all His work which God had created and made."

To sanctify that, to bless the seventh day is to pronounce a benediction on the whole week, all of the work, all of creation. In other words, for God to call the seventh day "holy" is for God to name the creation a holy place. The seventh day is a sanctuary, a space in time which extends in all directions spatially, claiming all of creation as holy space.

But this naming also extends backwards in time. In God's blessing of the seventh day, the previous days are blessed and pronounced holy. This is true by virtue of those artifacts which persist in time -- all the *stuff* that God made is still there when He blesses everything on the seventh day. But there also seems to be a sense in which sanctification, calling something/someone "holy" penetrates into the past. Events stack up on top of one another, but they are and remain permeable to holiness.

In the beginning, God created a sanctuary, a holy place: the universe.

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