Pastor’s column: Keeping Time

Published 6:48 pm Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Dent Davis, Tryon Presbyterian Church

It’s a New Year. And we know it; because our calendars tell us it is 2014. Clocks remind us that time matters, and calendars document moments of time so we don’t forget. Appointments, tasks, visits, birthdays, and social commitments – all find their way onto the calendar. And they are lived out hour-by-hour and minute-by-minute using our wristwatches, smart phones and wall clocks.

It hasn’t always been that way. Centuries ago people kept time more simply, noting daybreak, mid-day, dusk and night, as well as the changes in seasons. Although sundials and water clocks have long been used, it wasn’t until the rise of the Christian monasteries that time was kept by the hour. Clocks and clock towers didn’t appear until the 15th century. Cocks didn’t have minute hands until the 17th century. Today clocks and calendars come in every imaginable size and shape.

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Keeping time often leads to greater efficiency, increased production, and better organization, but it also can lead to over-scheduling and a preoccupation with the calendar.

Sometimes it is all too easy to get fixated on past times and carry far too much anxiety about future possibilities. What often gets lost in the process is an appreciation for the present moment. Not all present moments are easy.

“For everything there is a season,” the writer of Ecclesiastes wrote long ago, seasons such as birth and death, planting and harvesting, killing and healing, mourning and dancing.”

Life is filled with many seasons and different times, but the message of our faith is that God is the keeper of all seasons, all days, and all times. Nothing is lost.

The Christmas carol “O Little Town of Bethlehem” captures this promise at the end of the first verse: “Yet in thy dark streets shineth, the everlasting light. The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” The light comes in the darkness. Tonight. Now. In the present moment.

Every moment is a threshold between what has been and what is to come. We come from a myriad of yesterdays, and we move toward an unknown tomorrow. God is a part of all those moments.

When Jesus began his ministry in Galilee, he said, “Now is the time! Here comes God’s kingdom! Change your hearts and lives, and trust this good news!” (Mark 1:15, Common English Bible). “Now,” Jesus said.

Madelene L’Engle once wrote, “Time is to be treasured, worked with, never ignored.”  And Goethe famously said: “Whatever you can do, or dream you can… begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” The New Year is a new opportunity. Each day is a gift, and every breath an opportunity.

God is a part of all of it. The question is what we will do with our time. How will you and I keep time in 2014?