Does Anybody (Really) Know What Time It Is?
When you wake, each day are you grateful for waking up? Do you say to yourself, “So, I have one more day? What a gift. What will I do with today?” The time before us is a gift and an assignment, grace and judgment. What will we do, what will God do with the time?
The Greek philosophers marveled that time was full of pattern, recurrence, and the eternal return. The first historian, Thucydides, said that the task of the historian was to sort through the flux of time and place, the confusing, odd particularities of human events, and find universally recurring patterns.
Armed with knowledge of these patterns, the historian could rise above the seeming senselessness of contemporary events and, because one had uncovered the eternally recurring patterns of human history, one could predict how future events would go.
Kierkegaard noted that the Jewish and Christian views of time are different from the pagan. In Christianity, the believer seeks not to rise above time or to escape time, but rather to hear the command of God in time, like Abraham heard God calling him on a starry night. Is that why the synoptic Gospels begin with relinquishment, with Jesus’ demand to let go of jobs, to abandon marriage and family, and to follow Jesus into an unknown, never-predefined destination? Time flows along normally until Jesus sets foot on the scene:
“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children … So, you are no longer a slave, but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God” (Gal 4:4-7).
We are not redeemed away from time, but as Paul says here in Galatians, God moves into time, adopts our time, redeems us from bondage to time’s ravages, and generates “the fullness of time.” That’s the main reason why the church attempts to help us take time in the name of Jesus by demanding that we follow the Church Year.
The church teaches us to mark time according to Epiphany, Lent, and Easter rather than as Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, and Mother’s Day. We are thereby encouraged not to escape time (as in some Eastern religions) but rather to live in time as those who know what time it really is.
Odd that we tend to think of the story of Jesus as something that happened in time past. Odd, if you consider the resurrection to be true. If the resurrection of Jesus really happened, as we believe it did, then we have more future with Jesus than past, more tomorrows than yesterdays. Jesus is more of our present and future than of our past. (—Will Willimon, Pulpit Resource, 1st Sunday in Advent 2013)
If we learn anything in Advent is that as disciples of Jesus Christ “we have time.”
news & events
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Note: Office hours are 12 - 3 PM, Monday through Thursday. Pastor is available in an emergency anytime (828-612-6439), and is usually in the office from 8 am - 4 pm, Monday through Thursday. If you need to meet with him, call to schedule a time.
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