Tic, toc, tic, toc; with dull, rhythmic certainty the study clock beats the passing of time.
Outside, a cold, arctic blast has finally driven away the last vestiges of our hot summer. Winter has arrived and Christmas is hard on its heels. Time moves on and we are compelled to move with it.
The lead up to Christmas is always busy. From carol services and nativity plays, to decorating the tree or peeling the sprouts; so much to do before the day itself. Time, as they say, is of the essence, and now it just flies by. Yet I remember as a child, anxiously waiting the annual visit of Santa, it was as if time slowed almost to a standstill. Time, experience tells me, is remarkably elastic – with a mind of its own. Focussed on the future, all too easily we fail to truly experience the present.
Tic, toc, tic, toc; the study clock continues to beat the passing of time; a reminder, if one were needed, of deadlines looming. The clock is electric. Each second of the day is marked by the steady beat, accompanied by a jerk of the hand. Between each movement, each tic and toc, is a stillness; it probably has more time in quiet contemplation than in noisy movement, yet it’s the latter we notice most easily.
Amidst all the busyness of preparing for Christmas it is easy to forget what we are truly here to celebrate. Two thousand years ago Jesus, our Saviour, came to his temple, and the temple in all its noisy busyness, failed to recognise him. Today, even as we build the crib scene, re-tell the story, hang out the decorations; we also struggle to find time and space to prepare ourselves; to stop and ponder all these things (Lk 2:19). Tic, toc; as my clock tells me, in every moment of the day there is stillness as well as motion.
Today this temple is found not in bricks and stone, but in human hearts like yours and mine. Amidst all the busyness and activity of this season let us remember that the passage of time encompasses valuable stillness, as well as frantic movement. ‘The Lord is come to his Holy Temple’, let us be still and recognise him here. (based on Habakkuk 2:20 – amended).
Rev’d Philip Payne Advent 4/Christmas 2022
The Notice Sheet can be found here
Back in 2023. Praying you all a joyful and peaceful Christmas; may God bless you with his presence.