A family had an old grandfather clock that chimed every hour, once for one o’clock, twice for two o’clock, and so on. One night the clock malfunctioned, causing the chimes to ring thirteen times. A little boy heard it and raced through the house yelling “Get up, everyone, get up! It’s later than it’s ever been.”
Many mornings we wake up to an alarm. It’s no fun. More recently I’m waking up on my own around 6:30 a.m. But I’m thankful for the alarm clock, because if we didn’t have one or more, we would be a mess. We’d miss getting up and getting ready and getting to camp or school or work.
Some kids and adults are early morning people, meaning they’re weird. Just kidding. I believe you have super powers that many mortals such as I don’t always have, though like I said as we get older we get more of these super powers of sleeping less.
Time’s important. Cell phone aren’t just phones but tell us what time it is and keep us on schedule with calendars and alarm clocks. We have watches, and clocks in our cars and alarm clocks on nightstands or dressers.
Time is money. Time is the new currency. Today time is more important than money. Many people today will spend money to save time whereas in the past most people spent time, did things themselves, to save money. In a world where most of us feel stressed out, we value our free time more than money in our pocket.
Perhaps we’re all just more willing to listen to Psalm 90:12 where it says, “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” This is always good wisdom, but hard to do. When we recognize that we have only so much time that will help us think better about how to spend our time.
Keeping track of the time is important. What we do at one time may be exactly what is needed. But we need to make sure this is true. Australian swimming instructor Cat Owens knows some parents aren’t going to like what she has to say. But she’s saying it anyway. “You need to put your phone down and watch your child’s swimming lesson.” Owens has been a swimming instructor for the past decade, and she’s used to looking up from the pool and seeing an entire row of parents on their phones. “It makes the kids sad,” Owens says. “They’re trying to make their parents proud of them.”
One of our teachers came out of his shift and told us that he almost cried during a lesson, because a little boy in his class swam the length of the pool, looked up at his dad for praise, and said, ‘Why won’t Daddy watch me? He’s always playing on his phone.’ This boy had put in so much effort. He had listened well to the teacher, he had tried his hardest, and he just wanted his dad to be proud of him. Sadly, we see it all day, every day.”
We need to know what the time it is. As Ecclesiastes 3 says, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die…a time to weep, and a time to laugh.”
We’re meant to go through different seasons. Our lives shouldn’t be stuck in one time, with one set of problems or one type of happiness. We need to be adept at recognizing what the Lord is giving us and what that means for us. Nobody said life was going to be easy, nor did they say it should be boring or by rote. God doesn’t do life by numbers.
Our scripture passage tells us the time has changed. Ephesians says that the boundless riches of Christ were to be brought to the Gentiles “to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God….”
What once wasn’t known or shown by God now is. Through Christ Jesus, all people have been offered knowledge and connection to the one God of heaven and earth. What was formerly only a possibility for Israel, has been put aside so that all others can know the Lord God, creator, redeemer, sustainer.
God knew this new day would come about but only at the right time. It is the church that expresses God’s plan for all humankind. While it is often frail and very human, the church reveals God’s hope that all humanity can be united in peace, according to God’s eternal purpose and plan for his creation.
The church doesn’t belong to one set of people, nor to one nation with its wants or agenda, or even to one kind of church. The church is home for the revelation of Jesus Christ, who reveals God’s will to save all people from sin and the powers of evil, to show them the way of peace and justice, to bring their lives into harmony with God’s love and purpose, and to fulfill their created beings in the heavenly banquet of God’s eternal presence.
Church on the Hill, our faith, belongs to this vision. We are to make real and full our faith in our day, so that the eternal plan of God’s grace in Christ will be alive today and tomorrow.
We may not recognize easily what God’s vision is for our lives. When we don’t, we miss a lot. When we do, we gain everything. We especially
need to see if we’re in the season of a big change, like having a baby, or moving from our home of decades into a care facility, or finishing college and having to get a job.
Take an open-hearted look at what the Lord has handed you. Wake up so you can see the new chapter that God has richly provided you. Don’t let fear dictate a limited response to what’s happening. Instead, give Christ your fears and worries, so you’re free to create a joyous acceptance of the next challenge.
All the seasons and times of our lives are necessary for us to learn, grow, and become as full of Christ as possible. Look closer and you will see each reveals the handprint of God in your life. Trust what God is walking you through. When you get to the other side, you will be better equipped to be a more Christ-like person.
However, many times, we don’t want to see that the times are a’changing. We like to be the same and let the world change around us. It’s easy to get the idea that if I just stay the same, then everything else will leave me alone. That’s not how it is. The seasons change and we need to move into them.
But this can be a good thing. Sometimes, we may not have done so well at one point in our lives, and we need a new season to get us to a better place. Some people have a tough time realizing their potential or their purpose. Maybe things were tough when they grew up, or school wasn’t their thing. Perhaps they didn’t always make the best decisions. God offers another chance in a new time with a new direction or purpose or plan.
Sometimes someone just needs a new season.
There was a story like this that Jesus told. In Luke 15:11-32 Jesus told a story about a young man who asked for his portion of the family estate and left for a distant land. There he squandered his money. The day came when all the money was gone. He hired on with a farmer who put him to work slopping the hogs. He was so hungry that he found himself ready to eat with the pigs.
Then the light turned on. He saw what he had become. He knew there was only one way back, and told himself, “I’m going to get up and go back home. When I get there, I’m going to say, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired hands.’”
But when he got close enough where his dad could see him coming, the father ran to meet him. When his son started to talk, the father cut him off. He would hear no more of it. Jesus’ story finishes with the dad’s famous words of joy and celebration, “He was lost and is found.”
There comes a time when one’s foolishness ought to be seen for what it is and what it has done. There’s a time when a new time is needed. But we must recognize it.
This story is for all of us. We’re not eating with pigs literally but we’re not where we’re supposed to be. We’re in more conflict than we need to be. We don’t feel as alive as we might feel. We don’t have as good of relationships as we could have. We don’t love the Lord as much as we want to love the Lord.
We’re slopping around and accepting things as they are rather than seeing time is up. We think it’s one time but it’s another. Don’t keep thinking it’s time to break down when it’s time to build up. We need to let go of last season and step into our new season. The old has passed away. The new has come.
If you’ve been one who has always been afraid to speak his or her mind, see if the time isn’t changing. Let yourself be heard. Or if you’re someone who has more often spoken first and listened second, let others have their say. Wisdom comes from listening.
If you’ve always been a TV watcher, try reading books. If you’ve always read mysteries, pick up poetry. If you’ve never like nature, make special efforts to give yourself some nature time. If you’ve never felt technology was your thing, overcome your lack of interest or fears and step into it.
Let your heart grow. Find more space in your spirit. Be inspired by the power of God’s new challenges to bring you more abundant life.
Can the church say Amen?