Marking Time, Finding Time, Making Time
Marking Time. Finding Time, Making Time
Thinking About Our Times Now
Once upon a time, clocks and watches were all mechanical devices. They had faces with hands for hours, minutes and seconds that could be seen and mechanical gears that moved the hands. About fifty years ago quartz technology was applied to watch making on a large scale.
Prior to the development of this quartz technology, the leading companies in the watch making industry were in Switzerland. The Swiss companies knew about the new technology. Yet they chose not to adopt it. Others companies in Japan and the United States filled the void. Many of the Swiss companies that had been leaders in the watch industry went bankrupt or were closed. New names emerged. There has been a renaissance in mechanical watches in recent years, but this return has been only for a segment of the watch wearing world as the products are expensive.

Today we don''t think a lot about what makes a watch work. We just look at it to tell time. Often there are not hands, only numbers. The way we tell time has changed.

Historian Daniel Boorstin described the comprehension of time as the first major human discovery. Humanity first marked time by planetary movement. Then the clock was invented which permitted greater precision in "telling time." Today we not only can see seasons and moon phases, but we can measure the amount of space in between seconds.

I woke up the other night and could not go back to sleep as I thought about our own time. What are we doing in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Are we marking time just waiting to get back to "normal?"

There is no doubt that life is going on. The pandemic has created unimaginable disruption, even chaos. What we though of as "normal" has been shattered. Are we waiting, thinking that there will be an "all clear" like after a bad storm and people will begin moving about rebuilding their lives?

People have begun moving about. But there has been no "all clear." Uncertainty and anxiety are still so present. Each of us has experienced this in our own way. This week I have been with my mother who was in the hospital. Only one visitor was permitted at a time. Temperature checks were required upon entering the building. Masks were required. Whatever is next, it will not be "normal."

Are we finding the time to do what is needed?

In the midst of this time, some things have to be done. Trips to the grocery store are often required. Students have had to work with parents and teachers for on-line or at home schooling. People have found creative ways to work from home. Our appreciation for "essential" work has deepened.

You also know how church life has shifted. It is not just online worship. It is also the whole range of things involved - education, meetings, mission. All of this has been altered.

Are we making time for whatever comes next?

Whatever happens next will not just emerge one day as if the COVID-19 pandemic was a bad dream. Whatever happens next will depend on how we have marked our time and on what we have found during this time. We are all in a new phase of discovery for what the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ looks like in our time.

Below are three columns. The first two provide links for information from government and church groups about making our way forward. The third column represents your church. Using the information from the first two columns, consider what you need to do in your congregation, ministry and context for what is next. We all need to make time to create plans for the future.

PCUSA COVID-19

This resource has numerous links, some of which have been cited in previous emails to Cherokee Presbytery churches, pastors, and members
You may place your church photo in this place. How are you preparing for the time that is ahead of us?
What is true for your congregation is also true for Cherokee Presbytery. Your Presbytery consists of 30 churches across northwest Georgia. We have several ministry teams that assist congregations and individuals in various ways. Together we also must be thinking through what is next for how we do our mission and ministry together. Your Ministry Teams continue to work on particular tasks for our common life. The Coordinating Team will be meeting by a Zoom call next Tuesday. Together we are all making our way forward to follow our calling as disciples of Jesus.

This Sunday, May 31, is Pentecost. We remember and celebrate the power of the Holy Spirit as it blew through the gathered disciples and provided them with the language (or languages) they needed to share the Good News. No doubt it was a time of coming out from the shadow of fear and calamity that must have been felt as Jesus was crucified and died. But that is not where the story ended. The story of faith begins again at the resurrection. And Pentecost catapults it forward.

What had the disciples been doing during the time while they waited? Acts 1 doesn''t provide a lot of detail. But it does give us one concrete action. The community elected another apostle: Matthias. The scriptures don''t tell us much about him. But he is not the focus. The focus is on the community who recognized the need to prepare for what was next. Part of that preparation was providing the leadership they understood they needed at the time. Then it was up to God to do the rest.

Church life in the COVID-19 pandemic does not look like what we have known as "normal." A lot of creative adaptations and innovations have resulted in this time. No doubt more will occur. Moving forward let us use our energy, intelligence, imagination and love not just to mark time or even find time. We have no guarantees for what will come. But just as the faith community made preparations in Acts 1, we need to make preparations now. Make plans. Then let us trust the Lord through the power of the Holy Spirit.

We are still the Church. Bound together in God''s love through the work of Jesus Christ and the Pentecostal power of the Holy Spirit.
In these unrelenting and unforgiving times:
  • May the Peace that passes understanding enfold you
  • May the Grace we need surround you,
  • May the Hope we find sustain you,
  • May the Thanks we have transform you,

In Christ may we find:
  • the harmony of God’s creation,
  • redemption for all people, and
  • the ability to live together through the power of love.

Joel

Joel Joel L. Alvis, Jr., Ph.D.
Mission Coordinator and Stated Clerk
Cherokee Presbytery P.O. Box 1839 Cartersville, GA 30120 coorandclerk@cherokeepresbytery.org
Cherokee Presbytery