Is time going quickly for you, or is it dragging? As I approach retirement time is running out! Time is rather a peculiar thing in our experience. Modern physics teaches us that time is not absolute and can vary when we travel at high speeds, speeds approaching the speed of light. This was a great insight that Einstein incorporated in his theory of Special Relativity. But in normal life, time is something that we cannot change and is a great reference point in our lives. Yet we experience the passing of time in very different ways.
It is strange how, if you are waiting for something, time can seem to go very slowly. While we wait for a train, bus, phone call, in the doctor's waiting room five minutes can seem a long time. If we are occupied in conversation or busy with something, minutes or even an hour can pass quickly. As we get older time seems to speed up. When I was a child, the school summer holidays seem to go on for ages. Now they seem to come and go in a blink of an eye.
Lynne and I have lived in this area now for 15 years. As we come to the end of our time here I reflect on how quickly it has gone and indeed how quickly the 39 years have gone since I was first ordained. Now as I come to retirement, I will have a different experience of ‘time' in a new setting.
I remember someone who said to me that it is wrong to complain when we are too busy. ‘There is something worse than being too busy. That is not being busy enough!' Yes it is true; none of us like too much to cope with - but equally none of us like to be bored and for time to pass too slowly.
Often when we watch sport on television they have an action replay. You can turn the clock back and see over again in slow motion what happened. Sometimes we wish we could turn the clock back and change what happened. But we know that in reality time goes just one way and we cannot change the past. For this reason, because circumstances can change, it is good to make the most of the time that we have while we have it. Each stage of our lives can have both very good, and not so good, things and sometimes very tragic events can take place. We have to live around these stages in life and rejoice in what is good.
The Christian tradition reminds us of the truth that we can move through difficult times to something much better. The road to resurrection goes through Good Friday. The early church had exciting times as the new followers of Christ experienced the love and energy of God's Holy Spirit, but also encountered real challenges on the way.
So we will experience joys and sorrows in our experience of time. We also need to vary our experience of time. I've had the most problems in my ministry when I have not organised enough time off to do something different than the work of a vicar. The ancient custom of the Sabbath is really important. Someone said, ‘Divert daily, withdraw weekly and abandon annually' when talking about work. Rest and recreation are really important.
Jean Pierre de Caussade, a French Jesuit Priest who lived from 1675 - 1751, wrote a book called Abandonment to Divine Providence which is also known as The Sacrament of the Present Moment. It was about meeting with God in the present moment - and the title reminds us of how important the present is. We can often live too much in the past, or think too much about the future. Encountering life and God in the present is so important in living life to the full.
There is a phrase in Paul's letter to the Ephesians about ‘making the most of the time' (Eph5.16). I do believe that life and therefore time is a gift of God which we need to treasure and use as well as we can. We should see it as an opportunity to do good. We are so thankful for the time that we have spent here in ‘Rock & District'. I hope that whether time is going quickly or slowly for you that you will somehow be able to make the ‘most of the time'.