Dear Friends in Christ,
The passing of time is something most of us are very much aware of. When we are young it goes so slow and when we get old it seems to go by faster and faster. I once was visiting with an elderly member of the congregation who had a background in physics, and had taught science at the local high school. He shared an image that I have never forgotten about this perception of time. He said, “Time is like a roll of toilet paper. At first when you put it on, it doesn’t go around many times to get the amount you need, but as the roll gets used up it spins more times to get the same amount of paper.” So we really always have the same amount of time – it only seems to be moving faster.
Since both Linda and I marked the passing of another year with our birthdays in September, we have been acutely aware of the passing of time. It has often been hard to keep track of where we are in the flow of the year without the usual benchmarks of celebratory gatherings, special services (Easter and Pentecost), the movement of the seasons of the church, and all the scheduled comings and goings of each week. Despite the absence of all these things, time keeps moving punctuated by unexpected moments of violence, sadness, tragedy, loss and uncertain expectation. The markers become “six months since…,” “one month ago…,” “a week ago…,” “39 days until…,” and so it goes. In many ways, this has become the way we have moved through time as this year has unfolded.
Despite the changes in our usual patterns, God has not stopped providing grace moments in each day. God’s word continues to speak to us, we continue to hear the still small voice which Elijah heard call to him as he hid in a cave, and in many ways we too have received the manna and quail which God provided to his people in the wilderness. When we become overwhelmed by the events that surround us, filled with anxiety and fear, the words from Psalm 46 reach out to us with the message, “Be still, and know that I am God!” It is there that we find the truth of this revolving time in which we live. God is present in each moment, as God always has been since the days of creation, renewing and transforming the world in ways we cannot image. It may not feel like it, but the process is never easy or without suffering. We need only stand at the foot of the cross and behold the crucified body of our Lord to be reminded of this.
In Jesus’ presence, we can know that God will not quit until God has arrived at God’s good intention. And the ministry task that is now before all of us is to engage in relentless, uncompromising hope, remembering that the seemingly barren wilderness is grace-occupied.
May God’s grace continue to renew your spirit in hope.