When I was at the University of Kentucky as a student, I got to study many things, but the one I loved most then, and still love today, was my Hebrew and Judaic studies, and through the course of these studies I became familiar with the writings of Abraham Joshua Heschel. When I was a student, I made a list of all of the books I wanted to read, many of which were Heschel’s, but as with all the best laid plans of mice and men, I did not get them read.
In order to keep myself grounded and intellectually stimulated, I try to read a lot during the semester, and on one trip to the Central Public Library I found myself browsing the religion section. I came across one of those books on my list caught my attention: The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man.
In this book, which is very short and very good and I think everyone should read it, Heschel writes about creating what he calls “architectures in time.” Of course, he is talking about the Shabbat or Sabbath, the 25 hours of complete rest mandated in the Torah (Genesis through Deuteronomy), but there is a lesson here for us. He writes that instead of making the sanctification of space our top priority, as beautiful as our houses of worship are and as important as they are, we should be focusing on sanctifying time as our first step toward God. Instead laying a cornerstone of granite, we should lay of cornerstone of an hour.
If you watched the video I posted with last weeks reflection, Reb Zalmon talked about the sacrifices of the ancient Jews and how they’ve changed. He says that when the Temple stood, they sacrificed sheep, bulls, etc. Then when the Temple was gone, they sacrificed the precisely worded prayers from the rabbis (sounds familiar in a Christian context). Then he asks, what do we have now that we can sacrifice? Time. The most valuable thing to most of us is our time.
Will we take the time this advent to make a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving? Will we take the time this reflect, with expectation and anticipation for the coming of Jesus? Will we take the time to sanctify these days of joy and preparation? Will we make an architecture in time?