Anaheim SDA Church
Mid-week Pastor’s Update
October 20th, 2021
“But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” Daniel 12:4
I find it incredible to think that, when God created the world, there were no timekeeping devices! Yes, the patterns of the moon and sun were given to establish general times (Genesis 1:14-19), but by those, people could only keep general times of the day & month. It’s kind of as if the day only had a few general time periods: morning, mid-day, afternoon, evening, and night. You could basically only plan 3 or 4 activities per day! “I’ve got this in the morning, that for the mid-day, the other thing in the afternoon, and dinner plans with ______ in the evening.” And that was your day!
Then, of course, the sun-dial was invented (in about 1500 BC, according to the Googlizer). People could now divide up their days into smaller chunks, though it wasn’t especially easy to check the time: (“Shall I go outside to see what time it is?” or “Shoot! It’s cloudy today!”). Plus, given the fact that the seasons changed things so much, one couldn’t really plan things according to a sun-dial, they are mostly just interesting to watch (hence, the lopsided hourglass shape).
Then, in the 1300s AD, the first mechanical clocks began to become developed. These were obviously labor intensive and rare, so wealthy cities would prominently display them: both to help people know the time at a glance, and to show off the city’s sophistication & advancement.
But could this development have unintentionally implied the idolization of time as being the most important thing? As someone would approach a city, what did it appear that city was elevating? Time. “Look at the time!”
Nowadays, most of us carry the time around on our wrists, or, even more recently, our cell phones. (My watch-band broke back during the pandemic when all the ‘non-essential’ businesses were closed, so, though I intended to get it fixed eventually, I never got around to it and have since lost my watch).
I fear, though, with all this advancement, time feels more scarce and short than it did when general periods of the day were all that could be discerned. We slice time into ever-smaller increments, with the rationalization that we’re maximizing time, when, in reality, we may be killing the ‘open time’ God intended for us to experience. Yes: I can now schedule 12-16 things into my day now, have it work like (heh) clock-work, and feel more productive, but are we fundamentally happier than when things were simpler?
I find the above-quoted Bible verse from Daniel 12 to be very apropos: we run to and fro, advancing knowledge, maximizing commerce & socialization (though that can be done ‘virtually’ now), but are we fundamentally better off than previous generations for it? The Bible actually testifies that life will get worse until Jesus comes (see Daniel 2 & Matthew 24). Though we obviously benefit from the many technological advancements, are we also accelerating the prophesied worsening with our scurrying?
My kids were watching the beginning part of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ the other day, and I saw the white rabbit singing his “I’m late I’m late I’m late!” song, and thought: is that how most of us live our lives?
I imagine that, from angelic/unfallen worlds’ perspective, we look fairly like agitated ants on an anthill. (Have you ever seen a group of ants acting normally, but then scare them by stomping your foot somehow and watch them go into fast-forward?)
Thoughts like these make me all the more thankful for unhurried, un-scheduled time with God. First of all, he establishes a day. He says “take time off from your busyness, and spend it with me, with your families, with the community of faith.” I love that we discern the Sabbath’s beginning and end by that original timekeeping method: sundowns (though we can of course have Google tell us the exact minute (yea, second) that the sun sets).
I sometimes wish we didn’t have a clock in the sanctuary! What purpose does it serve? Are we here to serve the God who extends continued, continued, continued time to us, or get increasingly grumpy with however minutes the preacher goes past high noon? (I know, people get hungry, and it gets particularly important when meds need to be taken with a meal at a certain time of day).
But let’s just enjoy the Sabbath day, huh? Not try to cram it full like the others. Perhaps this can be a challenge in the coming Sabbaths: bask in the openness of time, not knowing exactly what time it is, give or take a couple hours.
Secondly, God makes himself accessible anywhere, any time, for any amount of time. I’m so blessed when I can take a quiet 45 minutes in the sanctuary: I hope you have someplace you can go to be at peace & in communion with God during the week as well.
So let’s stop ‘worshipping time’, or make it the dominating factor in our lives. Let’s not let it fill us with dread. Yes, we have to work within it (as with so many things in life), but let’s not let it define us.
Praise the Lord that God offers to extend to us unlimited time, for all those who choose Jesus as Lord. To say “Yeah, I’ve got time for that”, rather than “I’m late, I’m late, I’m late!” will be a freedom of that Kingdom that, hopefully, we can get a taste of here in the meantime.
May God bless you and your families this week.
Pastor Mark Tatum