Friday, November 6, 2009

The Timing of Things

There have been two events in the last week that have made me think about TIME, and how I view giving my time to God.  Thought I'd take a moment or two of my time and write the events out for you, and some of my thoughts.  You can decide if this is something that resonates with you, or maybe you'd even have something you would like to add.

My thoughts about time originated at a wedding I attended recently.  The wedding was for my second cousin Julie and her now husband David (who I am also related too - I won't get into that, but will say it's a mennonite thing).  Julie and David are part of the same Mennonite Conference (Southeastern Conference) that my grandparent Heatwoles were part of (the church of my Dad's youth).  It is typical of that more conservative mennonite conference to include a sermon as part of the wedding service.  The sermon for Julie and David's wedding was surprisingly VERY short.  I had been expecting something considerably longer (atleast 20-30 minutes in length), what we got was at most 8-10 minutes. 

I wasn't the only one surprised by the brevity of this particular sermon, and whispered comments were shared by those in seats surrounding me.  That is when I first noticed the clock that hung above the pulpit facing the congregation.  Without even realizing it I (and I believe maybe most of the congregation) had been timing the service with the use of this clock.  The thought hit me that I had been VERY aware of the time during the whole of the service and how that had been unconcentiously distracting. 

I had these same thoughts when a week later I was back in the same pew of the same church where my Grandmother's funeral was being held.  This time the sermon was considerably longer, and I have to honestly admit I was frustrated by that and the clock that hung over the pulpit.  Though I knew how important my Grandmother's faith was to her, I wasn't interested in hearing a sermon from Romans, so the time dragged on.  In the effort of full disclosure I was more interested in remembering stories of my grandmother, a woman of faith.  I wanted to remember with others how her life had been a reflection of God's Word. 

In the last week since the funeral I've asked myself a couple of times why I had been so frustrated by that clock staring me in the face.  A couple of days ago the answer struck me very plainly, I simply wasn't use to following time in church.  In every church I've ever attended the clock is also in the back of the sanctuary, and your back is to it (uncless you are behind the pulpit then you get to face it).  And since I don't like wearing watches, I simply don't follow the time during a service.  I don't keep a measure of how long we've been singing, praying or preaching, I simply give my heart over to the worship and I follow the spirit. 

I even questioned why we keep a clock in the church period, if most of the congregation doesn't even see it on a given Sunday.  I laughed to myself when it hit me that the clock was obviously positioned at the back of the church for a purpose, the person who needs it the most is able to view it there.  For all those long-winded preachers :)  Or maybe it would be better to place the clock at the front of the church where the pastor would not be able to see or be distracted by its presence?  Or just maybe we should do away with clocks in church all together? 

Should we be concerned with time when we gather together as the body in worship and praise?  Or maybe I'm just overthinking this line of thought?

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