Our Church was chartered on July 17, 1873. In 1873, Ulysses S. Grant was President, we were eight years past the official end of the Civil War. By no means have we resolved issues of racial justice in our country. We have work to do, justice to bring to the fore. In January of 1873, Japan began using the Gregorian calendar as opposed to the Lunisolar Chinese calendar that had been introduced to Japan by Korea in the middle of the sixth century. Japan has more than one system for designating years. Era names related to reigns of different emperors is another system. They used to track the Imperial Year based on the legendary founding of Japan by Emperor Jimmu. Following the traumas of World War II, this time-tracking system was abandoned. Trauma can cause us to live out of time. Days feel like months. Months feel like years. Years feel like a blink of an eye.
We track time in different ways, we mark some events on the calendar. We mark doctor and dentist appointments, visits from out-of-town family, birthdays, haircuts (one of my favorite times!). We sometimes track time by the weather-when it’s too cold here, we go to warmer climes. When it’s too hot there, we come back to the mountains.
Sometimes we track passing days by wounds in our hearts. So many years since the death of our Beloved. We track time with the tears which burn our cheeks as we remember a certain heart break or a dream that will never come to fruition. This year is the second year since Joe’s Dad’s death in April 2021. Happy and Mimi (Joe and June) are on the left, at my surprise 50th Birthday Party in Greensboro. What great smiles! This year is the second year since my Dad’s death in August 2021. Mai and Baba (Alec and Dot) are on the right, outside Solace Center in Asheville as my brother-in-law was dying in 2020. They brought my Sister and I fancy coffees. What great smiles!
“Happy Joe” and “Baba” (Shona for “Father”) were men who made good use of their time. They were faithful in their own ways. Happy Joe with his real estate auction business, prepared a sale two weeks before his last breath. The Sunday School Class at Trinity UMC in Rome, Ga, was renamed for him last Fall. Almost every Sunday for 30 years, Happy Joe was their Sunday School teacher. His Bible & Sunday School book stayed beside his recliner in front of the television, always. Baba taught Bible Study at the WNC United Methodist Women’s Annual Meeting for 25 years, many of those years, post-retirement, until he started falling asleep on the stage while waiting to help serve Communion! (motifying for my Mom and Sister!) For years, on Mondays, Dad would go to Central UMC in Asheville to pick-up the prayer requests from Sunday Worship and take them to Givens Estates where a small, faithful group would pray over those concerns and write notes to those on the list, much like our “Prayer Grams.”
Whatever celebrations and heart breaks you track on calendars or in your hearts, time is a mysterious gift from God. The days are long, the years are short. It moves like a wink in retrospect. Today drags on. Tomorrow never comes, yet, has already escaped. One of my favorite theologians, Paul Tillich, discusses the mysteries of time in his book The Eternal Now as well as in a brief meditation called “The Mystery of Time.” In that meditation, Tillich claims that “Time does not drive toward an endless self-repetition, nor to an empty return to its beginning. Time is not meaningless. It has a hidden meaning- salvation. It has a hidden goal- the Kingdom of God. It brings about a hidden reality- the new creation. The infinite significance of every moment of time is this: in it we decide, and are decided about, with respect to our eternal future.” This year, as we look back to celebrate what God has done through us and as we look forward to anticipate what God will do through us, let us not overlook the opportunity to make the eternal choice for Jesus NOW.
Grace and Peace,