It’s that season of the year when the Christian church is again making its Christmas preparations by focusing on the coming of Jesus. Last Sunday in church we were reminded that for us today it’s not only about the first coming of Jesus; we are looking today for His second coming.
Often during the season of Advent I have found myself thinking, “Yes, but we’ve been looking for that second coming of Jesus for almost 2000 years now.” That’s a puzzle that has often occupied the minds of God’s people. In the book of Revelation Jesus says that He is coming soon. But how soon is soon? I can imagine that the Apostle John on the island of Patmos would have been very surprised if he had been told that “soon” would not be for at least another 2000 years.
I have to accept that God’s clock and calendar work a little differently to mine.
But I also understand that time is a very relative thing. Albert Einstein was once asked by someone to explain the theory of relativity to a lay-person without a scientific education. He is reported to have said, “Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.”
In Chester Cathedral (England) there is a clock which has some lines written on it that make a similar point – but much more poignantly:
When I was a child I laughed and wept,
When I was a youth I dreamed and talked,
When I became a full-grown man,
When older still I daily grew,
Soon I shall find, on travelling on,
O Christ, wilt Thou have saved me then?
(Henry Twells – 19th C Anglican Clergyman)
According to that poem I’m in that age category where “time flew”. I find it hard to get my head around the fact that it’s already December once again and I haven’t even given a thought yet to Christmas cards to the family. And the more I think about how time flies the more I find myself thinking, “Yes, but what is 2000-years anyway from the perspective of eternity?”
Advent is a good time to think not only about the coming of Jesus; it’s also a good time to think about the passing of time because all of us are on the way to that moment of “time gone”. And that does make so vitally important that final question of that poem: In that instant where for us time is gone, how do we stand in relation to Almighty God? Will we in that moment have the certainty that the Christ child whose birth we celebrate in these weeks, has indeed saved us – not just for time but also for eternity?