I suspect many of you like me often stop in the middle of what you are doing and think, ‘What day is it today?’ Lockdown has changed our concepts of time and we are no longer governed by watch or calendar but by mealtimes and bedtimes.
Most of us have been living a different normal for several weeks and time now has become a construct with fuzzy boundaries.
One of the books I am reading in lock down, apart from those weighty theological tomes that ministers read everyday (!) is a book by popular TV science presenter Brian Cox and his colleague Jeff Forshaw. The book is entitled ‘Why does E=mc2? (and why should we care?)’ In the book they aim to explain how Albert Einstein developed the Theory of General Relativity and his famous equation in terms that non Research Physicist can understand.
In April scientists from NASA and The Max Plank Institute discovered more evidence to support Einstein’s theory. A star called S2 orbits a black hole (Sagittarius A*) at the centre of our galaxy, The Milky Way, at speeds of 11,000,000mph making it the fastest known ballistic object in the universe. But it was the motion of the star in orbit that intrigued them. It orbits in a classic Keplerian elliptical and forward motion, but rotates over time to form a rosette shape. (If you are of a certain generation you may have had a Spirograph as a birthday or Christmas present so you know the type of pattern I am talking about.)
Einstein introduced the concept of the space-time continuum in his theory, linking the three dimensions of space with time which had been thought to be independent of each other. For Einstein, the larger the mass of the object, the more it bends the fabric of the space-time continuum and the stronger its effects on nearby objects. So the slower you move through space the faster you move through time. (Trust me on this one, the maths is fiendishly difficult. Well not that difficult but it is still maths and so is still fiendish!)
Interesting you may say, or perhaps not, but what has this got to do with our faith today? S2 orbits around the black hole much like our faith orbits around God. The closer we are to God the greater effect He has on our faith, sending us off in a forward motion until we are drawn back to him again and like S2 our path to and from God is never the same. For our experience of God and our experience of life will change us.
Today’s lockdown serves to remind us that the God we worship not only created time but created ‘our’ time. The writer of Ecclesiastes sums up the concept of time with God beautifuly in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
Time is not a device we measure the length of our lives by but is a gift from God to use in His service. We should not ask how long did somebody live but how well did they live.
In these days of ‘fuzzy’ time where March lasted an eternity and April zipped by, rather than try and count the days until things get back to normal, ask God to guide you in using this time wisely.
God bless and stay safe,