The ‘extreme weather event’ we have experienced in the UK this week has messed with our time. There has been much tut-tutting about the craziness of so much of the national infrastructure shutting down, and much hand-wringing about how much this has cost the economy. Even during the blitz the London busses still ran; but not for a few inches of snow in 2009. My brother has recently moved to Chicago where the temperature has been –20C – and everything still runs!
Wanting to take the positive from this though, it has been encouraging to see people suddenly with time on their hands – time that they have used to play with their kids in the snow; to build snowmen and go sledging. I should have been at our regular Newfrontiers leaders days of prayer and fasting this week but it was cancelled due to the weather. This was a shame, because Prayer & Fasting is a highlight of what we do, but there has been an almost audible sigh of relief from across our churches as overworked pastors suddenly found time on their side again, rather than constantly fighting it.
It has been like a Sabbath rest; a rest from the tyranny of time.
Just as Sabbath overthrows the gods of work and money, so it smashes the tyranny of time.
Time is relative, and according to Albert Einstein, “There certainly seems to be less of it than there used to be.” Sabbath frees us from the tyranny of time by reminding us of the timelessness of God and by allowing us to get back into a rhythm that is God-shaped, rather than technology driven. Modern communications mean we are always and everywhere available, and always measuring time. As I write this, I have a watch on my wrist, a clock on the computer, a clock on the desk phone, a clock on my cell phone and a clock on the wall. My computer diary is synced with the diary on my phone and both are programmed to ping at me when it is time to move from one task to another. I am running a couple of email programmes and am also on Skype.
All this technology helps me to run things efficiently (well it can, so long as I am efficient with it and not merely distracted by it) but it can also start to function like a dictator.
All of us need time – a Sabbath – when we cut free from this technology and this time tyranny.
It is good at times to turn off your phone, or leave it at home. It is amazing how difficult many people fine this, as if without the phone some disaster is bound to befall them. But – truthfully now – how often is that phone call absolutely essential?
J. John writes that, “In twenty-first-century Britain things are so messed up that some people seem to feel more guilty about relaxing than they do about adultery.” I think this is true, or, even more bizarrely, some people feel a stronger sense of betrayal in turning off their phone than they do in neglecting their partner.
So keeping the Sabbath should involve practices that deliberately dethrone time from its god-like position in our lives. While this shouldn’t become an excuse for being late for church (!) it does give us permission to turn off the phone, shut down the computer, unplug the TV, and actually talk to someone, or go for a walk, or simply have an afternoon nap.
If we don’t develop deliberate strategies like these we will find that time is always running away from us. Time adheres to the law of the suitcase. Have you noticed that when packing to go on holiday you always have slightly too much to fit in your suitcase? It doesn’t matter how big your suitcase is, it is never quite big enough. Time works the same way in that work always expands to fill the time allocated to it. If you allow seven days a week for work, work will take all seven days, and still leave some over. The way to solve this problem is not by simply working harder, but by reducing the size of your suitcase. Pack light, pack clever, and only fly with hand luggage – it makes life much easier.
Best of the Rest w/e 17 May 2013 - [image: Best of the Rest w/e 17 May 2013 primary image] What has caught our eye around the web this week? Steve Holmes gets it right: why, despite reports...
2 days ago