The Timeless Truth as Time Flies By

14th December 2023

My family are inching closer to the school holidays, everyone is feeling rather tired but excited nevertheless, and we are counting the sleeps until Christmas. There is very much an ‘end of term’ feeling, not to mention a sense of the end of the year. It’s odd to think that Advent is actually the start of the liturgical year – so we are only 22 days into the church calendar!

It’s a cliché to say it but, however you choose to measure time, it passes faster and faster the older we get. The summer feels like only yesterday. It can be easy in our busy lives to let time race past without pausing for thought or taking stock. I find that the Christian seasons are so helpful in reminding me to consider what’s really important in life, even if only briefly. I came across this poem by Kathryn Simmonds the other day which perfectly captures what I mean (it’s quite long but worth reading):

The choir boys who never age have made
their mouths into a final Gloria and presently
three wise men will saddle up, bestowing gold
to help the babe across the border now the family
are refugees. Time hurries on, the year thaws out
and swings to spring as bits of garden beard and bud,
and days are swimming lessons, and eight times tables,
meal after meal in Ordinary Time, and lo the child
has grown up privately, and now he’s waist-deep
in the Jordan, breaking bread for multitudes,
calling Lazarus to quit his stinking cave, then
shouldering a tree alone. The sun rolls like a boulder
from the sky. We kneel. We shop. Another angel
tells another Mary not to fear. Incense. Chocolate.
Thomas puts his finger in the wounds
and pretty soon it’s June and Pentecost:
the children spill from school in cardboard crowns,
orange paper flames lick at the sky and now
we scroll for holidays, remembering last year’s crabbing
in a rock pool slippery with evening light.
Six weeks crash in and seep out like a wave.
We bag up clothes for charity and take a ticket
from that shoe shop measuring machine before
the trees begin to turn, then pick up one of those leaves
the size of elephant ears that fall on the road,
and laugh. Half term. All Saints. All Souls. And in
the distance comes again that angel calling Hail!

As church-goers following the liturgical calendar, the story of Jesus’s life is a constant background to our year and to our lives: at this time of year it is Christ’s birth we commemorate, the fact he came as a vulnerable dependent baby in a lowly stable, fully sharing in our humanity, but then we follow his life journey all the way through to his sacrificial death on the cross.

I find this such a comfort, remembering that Jesus is an ever-constant presence and that the story of salvation is a timeless truth that lasts forever, that remains true for every person that has and will ever live. And it also reminds us that, at the end of it all, as our earthly time has indeed flown by, there is a heavenly Kingdom, our eternal home, where the angels are always singing ‘Hail’.

With love and blessings
Revd Jemima