Today: Monday, December 09, 2019

About time    (12/16/2018)

It really depends how old you are.  The younger you are, the longer Christmas seems to take to come.  The older you are, the sooner it comes round again, too soon for comfort.

Shakespeare had some words for it.  In ‘As You Like It’ these words - in a modern translation - paint the picture:

“Time travels at different speeds for different people. I can tell you who time strolls for, who it trots for, who it gallops for, and who it stays still for…”

Time is like a horse!  But it’s also like a river, and there’s a hymn which echoes that - “Time, like an ever-rolling stream…”   Sometimes the river flows faster, sometimes slower and more peacefully, but always moving on.  And every so often there can be a waterfall moment, a crisis, a moment in time when something dramatic happens, and things change.

The most dramatic of such moments in history came with the first Christmas - “when the right time came, God sent his Son” (Galatians 4, verse 4).  It was the turning point from which the Christian Era is dated.  Before then the story is of preparation.  Ever after things are different.  That turning point is Christmas.

But now that we live well beyond God’s great waterfall moment, where is time headed now?  Can we foresee a time when the river flows into the ocean?

The early Christians thought that the next great moment was coming very soon, when the Jesus who was risen from the dead would return and set up new heavens and a new earth.  It’s a dream, or even a vision, that many hold onto still.  God who set the world and the universe in motion will one day wrap it all up and finish the story.  There is still another great dramatic moment to come.

People had great difficulty coming to terms with Jesus’ first coming.  We no doubt have great difficulty visualising his second coming.  But the idea that there is something to look forward to, that we can have hope in God, that there is a future more glorious than we can imagine, is something to hold onto.

And because the passage of time is very relative, and God’s timing bears little relation to ours, whether that day of God comes sooner or later is quite beyond our calculation or imagination.

The message - and it is part of the story of Advent, this preparation time for Christmas and Christ’s coming - is that we need to be constantly alert, ready day by day for God to break into the world afresh - whether that is tomorrow or millennia away.

When Jesus was last seen on earth, the instruction to the disciples was - “Don’t stand there looking up into the sky.  This Jesus, who was taken from you into heaven, will come back…” (Acts 1, verse 11).

We look forward with hope and expectation.  Christmas when it comes can be exciting.  But the next great coming will be even more exciting.


Lord Jesus, as you came once to earth, to change the world, prepare us for your fresh coming, so that whenever and how ever that day comes, we will be ready and full of hope.

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