15 August 2021
Saint Margaret’s Anglican Church Budapest, Hungary
We were delighted to welcome Mr. Jack Driver-Székely, our summer pastoral intern, as our Guest Preacher this Sunday. Have you ever heard a baby cry? As someone who had a baby four months ago, hearing a baby cry makes me turn quickly to check whether it’s my son, or more often or not what time in the night it is. Before my son was born, if I’m honest, a crying baby was up there with one of the most annoying sounds in the world. I used to think, if God could make the world any way He wanted to, why make a baby’s cry so piercing to the ear...? It turns out that the piercing feeling is exactly why babies sound like they do. I can’t really imagine not being able to speak or even have any words to say, but all babies have is that loud sound. Because of such a limited way of communicating, it comes as no surprise that there is a belief within the parenting community that babies cry differently depending what they need. If you are like me when I first heard this I thought, that’s rubbish it all sounds the same. But one night, about two months ago, after what had been one of those days, my wife was tired, I was tired, and my son just didn’t want to cooperate how we wanted him to. It’s about 9pm, my wife is getting ready for bed, baby was bathed and calm on the changing table. In my head I knew that the right thing to do was to just hand him to my wife to feed and help him fall asleep... And yet, another part of me could see that his nails needed cutting. For a wise person, the light would need to be turned on to do that, but for an unwise man like myself I decided that dim lighting was perfect. SNIP... one nail done. This is great I think, SNIP. Next nail done, but then this scream started, and I looked down and saw the smallest of cuts on his finger. My wife was straight up, the baby was screaming, and at that moment I realised that a baby’s cry when they are in pain is very different than other one’s! As we began to calm him down, my wife looked visibly tired and upset and turned to me and asked what happened. I told her my mistake and she just said: “It just wasn’t the right time to do that! It just wasn’t the right time.” Time is a precious thing. Page 1 of 4
There are 24 hours in a day, 168 hours in week, 8760 hours in a year, and for those who live until the age of 80 that’s 700800 hours on this planet. It would seem as though we have a lot of time at our expense, yet at the same time, time seems to fly. One minute we are there and the next we are here wondering what happened. If I were to say there have been 593 days since the first recorded Covid case perhaps that would shock you. Time is one of those rare commodities that while we have it, so often we are not sure what to do with it! Our readings today speak of three accounts where time is a central theme: For Solomon it was the time to take office, for Jesus His concern was the time one lives when one eats the bread of life, and for Paul we are told to live as wise people making the most of the time. The question we will ask this morning is “how does one make the most of time”? I would like to suggest two ways which we don’t make the most of time and one way in which we do. My time, your time and God’s time. In the story I shared a the beginning we see an easy example of what it means to operate on ‘my’ time. The one who lives a life like this, does not ask, does this work for other people or even whether what I do now has an effect tomorrow. It is similar to the person who may well claim to want to be healthy, but cannot be patient for healthy food to be made so eats McDonalds every day. We see it in our Old Testament reading in response to Solomon’s request for wisdom, God says: ‘Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, I now do according to your word.’ (1 Kings 2:11) Solomon could have easily asked: God, give me everything now, remove all my enemies, and while you are at it, give me some more wishes. He could have come to the throne thinking “Ah it’s my time now!” But what does he say: ‘And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted.” (1 Kings 2:7-8). In other words, is this really my time? The problem of living a life where my time is the only time, means that one does not look for the other, one does not seek the best outcome for the majority, because what I want matters most! This is not, I would argue, is what it means to make the most of time. Nor is operating on ‘your time’. What do I mean by this? One meaning of this is to live a life dictated by another person. Always doing what they want, when they want it. It also means to live wanting someone else’s time. To strive to be that person, wanting what they have, living like they do. At no time in history is it so easy to see what others have thanks to social media, but the temptation to want what other have, to live like they do is seen again in our Old Testament reading. It could have been that Solomon asked to be like other kings, to be like David, but because He didn’t, God gave Him these riches anyway. The truth is that God doesn't want us to be someone else, to live like them. Page 2 of 4
To be subject to another’s demands, to live wanting to be like them, literally wanting to live in their shoes, makes us subject to time. Living a life governed by your time can of course bring with it good things such as love for the poor and care for those in need, but I wonder, if you think for a moment, even when we do things like this, are we fitting them around us? Are we giving one hour of our time, rather than meeting them in theirs? Could it be that your time and my time are too closely connected? Is this why for some of us, myself included, the feeling of not having enough time is always in our mind? For if I don’t have time for myself how can I have time for you? But here is where I want to draw our focus this morning... What if we see time is something given and not something we control? What if, rather that operating on my time or your time, our focus is only on ‘God’s’ time? Picture for a moment the scenes before Christ ascended to heaven. His disciples were there thinking to each other, if death couldn’t beat this guy, this means that this is our time. No more Roman rule, no more fear, no more hiding out not knowing what to do. They had tasted this bread of life that Christ speaks of, they knew the promise of life eternal, and now for the fun bit, making the most of time! Into this scene, Jesus speaks: ‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you;’ (Acts 1:8a) In other words, its not your time yet. They must wait. What for? The Holy Spirit. The promise? Power. All sounds good so far! But then Christ continues: ‘and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ (Acts 1:8b) Now wait a minute! These men would have said Yes to Jerusalem and Judea but Samaria, really!? And the ends of the earth?! I can imagine them thinking, we don’t have time for that! If its down to us, why would we use our time going to places we know are not good, let alone places we don’t event know?! But note the sentiment, it is not, if you choose to follow me you might become my witnesses in foreign lands... No! You will be my witnesses. It seems as though the disciples had no say in the matter. Even more alarming was the fact that looking back we see how this declaration was primarily fulfilled at the beginning. It was not through Peter, nor John, nor Thomas (though of course they did great things)... No it was a man who at this same time would soon be plotting for how to persecute these men! A man who would find himself en route to kill Christians and would encounter the risen Lord and would be commissioned to take God’s mission into the Gentile world. Who was this man? The same one who would tell us today to ‘make the most of our time’. Paul. So what does he say is how do we make the most of time? In Ephesians 5 verse 20 he puts it clearly, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. It means not to go about each day focused on my time, or even on your time, but to give thanks for God’s time! Page 3 of 4
The miracle of Paul is a reminder that though we may not see how God’s promises will be fulfilled, that’s okay because that is God’s job to sort out! The disciples would have denied Paul’s membership into the community if he walked into their presence straight away. Rather than plan about how to fulfil our duty and to make the most of our time, why not today we give thanks to God for the gift of time. Solomon would later write: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. (Proverbs 3:5-6). In all ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths. My friends, let us be reminded to go about this week not focused on my time, nor governed by your time, but let us recall God’s time, for His timing is true. His timing is right. His timing is wise. For His timing is the fulfilment of all time. So let us remember God’s time, leaning not on ourselves, but upon the one who made us and who calls us! Amen.