I met with God the other night. It was a planned, official church event and thus I wondered how many of my youth group would actually show up (well, the older, increasingly cynical bunch) since it seems the idea of attending organised church events is somewhat repulsive to many. In fact I had ranted in my journal the night before how we seem to find ourselves increasingly busy every year to the extent that time has become (or I've become more aware of it) a hugely precious commodity not to be given away lightly. Most of the time when I suggest to my older teens how they might like to do something that involves Sunday services they either brush me off (well, one works every Sunday so that's always a non-starter) or they shrug and say "I normally go out Saturday night so Sunday mornings I'm in bed or at my mate's house" (hung over, I might add). I was never sure what to suggest since the postmodern reflection on giving of one's time does suggest that Sundays are no longer the institution they once were and the giving of one's time to God can and should occur any day of the week. But yesterday's Prayer Vigil and today's Easter Morning service made me realise it IS important to not give up the official church functions because that is often how we grow together as a community.
There is an undeniable bond between those of us who participated in the Prayer Vigil the other night. It is a shared experience. We all met with God and through that have been greatly blessed and are seeing things in a new light. I cannot describe what it is that went on in that church. All I know is that we have been changed for the better. The way I see it is this - we gave of our time, not knowing what to expect but wanting to communicate with God and wanting others to join in also. We gave of our time for 5 hours on Good Friday night and a few hours early the next morning. The time flew by. I had told the younger teens about the vigil and said the time would fly by and it did. I was stunned to see how many of them showed up, and literally leaping for joy when they wanted to stay longer than they originally planned.
Time. The one thing we spend a lot of, craving more of and yet it's the one thing we often don't give to the one who gave it to us. Are we really that busy? Are we really any busier than we were 5, 10, 20, 100 years ago? What do we do with our time? I've always been a bit resistant to the Protestant Work Ethic, not because I'm lazy (although I recognise a tendency in me to be so) but because it is a built in mechanism that seems to make us feel guilty when we're not doing anything or are not being 'productive' with our time. I mean, sure, it's important we don't become slothful but it's also equally important that we value the down times and embrace the peace of doing nothing. We need to restore the balance and I believe an ideal way of doing that is by making one day our "Sabbath". Since the majority of Christians choose Sunday for that day and Church is organised around that day, why reinvent the wheel?
I've had a lot of time to think about this. I spent the first year after returning from my stint in Canada fighting the fact that I was home, raging against my new, quieter, un/semi-employed existence when I should have been embracing the change, resting in the quiet and waiting on God to bring around the next adventure when I was ready. It's now been almost 2 years since I was officially home from Canada (although I spent a good 3 months last summer back there, sorting out my belongings and preparing to return to the UK more permanently) and even now I've been wrestling with the notion that I should be right here, wondering if I'd just settled for second best because I've become too disillusioned with dreaming big. I kept dredging up the past and mourning the loss of one dream, lingering in the melancholy of an existence that was no more and while it was important to go through the grieving process I wasted valuable resting and restorative time. I hadn't factored God into things much, or spent any time praying and communicating with Him about it. 5 hours in a prayer vigil went by like 20 minutes and throughout it all I sensed a deep craving for more time with God because there seemed to be so much to pray for and seek His heart about. I can totally see why people set up Boiler Rooms where prayer goes on 24/7/365... (maybe I should find my nearest one.. or maybe set one up locally??)
Time. Precious commodity. Owned by God (who is beyond time). Dare we spend time with Him, even if it means getting up earlier on Sunday mornings? What can happen if we do? We're all feeling lighter and also share a sense of anticipation of something bigger going on around us. It's indescribable, which is why we all need to give more time to God. I can show you the path, but you have to walk it.