So teach us to number our days

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So teach us to number our days,
that we may apply our hearts to wisdom. 
(Psalm 90:12)

In the context of Psalm 90, and in popular usage, this verse recalls us to a sense of our mortality. “Numbering our days” means understanding that we don’t have long to live and we should make every day count.

“Numbering our days” has stuck with me this week for a different reason, though.

In the context of the Daily Office, the ancient Jewish and Christian pattern of prayer in the morning and evening, we “number our days” in a very particular way.

I’ve been reflecting (especially since a great conversation over coffee on Wednesday with a clergy colleague) on how the Daily Office builds an awareness in us of a different “numbering,” a different way of organizing time.

The rhythm of morning and evening prayer includes collects (BCP 98-99, 123) that give shape to our weekly reflections, especially on Fridays (Jesus’ passion and death), Saturdays (God’s creative activity and our Sabbath rest), and Sundays (Christ’s victory over death and sin).

The offices also help attune us to the seasons of the Church Year, which have their own emphases and lead us through regular cycles of reflecting on Christ’s incarnation (Christmas) and his resurrection (Easter). There’s also a good long stretch of plain old “ordinary time” all summer long.

I sometimes wonder whether we Christians can regain a sense of our own sacred calendar in the face of the advertising onslaught of Back to School, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, Memorial Day and July 4th.

“Numbering our days” according to the Christian calendar might be one gentle witness to the countercultural Gospel we proclaim and to the Son of Man, Lord even of the Sabbath (Matt. 12:8), whom we follow.

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