Associate Rector's Letter for November
We’ve almost arrived at one of my favourite weekends of the year: the end of British Summer Time! (Not that it really ever began this year, you might be tempted to say)
I do indeed lament the passing of Summer but rejoice that we celebrate that fact by an extra hour in bed. And although not everyone is a fan of daylight saving, may I say on behalf of all erstwhile and current school children in Scotland that we were/are very grateful for it as it afforded at least a wee bit of daylight for the morning walk to school.
Time and seasons: our lives are governed by them. If we didn’t have the framework of minutes, hours, days and months to regulate our lives, it would be a wonder whether society as we know it could really function. Sometimes it runs or flies by. Sometimes it seems to crawl. But there never seems enough! I know that I have found that during this time of vacancy when there were so many opportunities and challenges and not always the time to address them as I would have liked. And on that note, I would like to thank you all very much for your patience and understanding in that regard - it has been much appreciated! And I know we are all looking forward to a new season in the life of Bury Parish Church under the leadership of Julian, our new rector. And we pray for God’s richest blessings to be upon him and his family as they settle in over the coming weeks and months.
All these thoughts about time have been prompted by a book I am reading called, “Becoming Friends of Time”, by John Swinton. I first came across John Swinton’s books at college, and was struck by his deep thinking and practical approach to theology. He displays both of these characteristics in this, his latest book. He deals with time particularly as it affects our physical capabilities, and how instead of thinking of ourselves as being diminished by our limitations and ‘not the people we once were’, we should make friends with time and what it does to us and embrace the way that our God-given uniqueness is now manifested. We may have slowed down. Our faculties may be impaired. But we are still ourselves.
The book mentions a theologian called Kosuke Koyama and how he remarked on the speed that God works at: 40 years in the wilderness to educate the children of Israel, for example. And Jesus, walking from place to place during his time of ministry. The average human walks at three miles an hour; Jesus, as God in human form, would have walked at an ordinary pace alongside everybody else. So you could say that Love has a speed - 3mph! And if we follow that logic then
“the reality is that, when time is love, speed equals less of it. The love of God is inexorably slow. Jesus walked slowly: love takes time.” (p.69)
How fast are we walking? What speed do we live at? If we’re going faster than the 3mph God, who then are we following?
Perhaps we need to slow down; to make friends with time instead of trying to work against it. And to allow the Lord of Time, the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, to teach us to live in his time and to see a little of how the world looks at his pace.
May God bless and keep you all as you journey on with Him!