Taking TIME to “Be” and Implement the Kingdom of God as Church

Once I received a call from a mother concerned that her adult son was still single, asking me to help find a girl for him to marry. When I asked why he needed help finding a spouse, I was told that he was too busy at his career and that he absolutely had no time to go meet anyone. I then responded that if he was too busy to make the time to meet and get to know someone, then he was probably too busy to be married. People can also “crowd” God Himself and the love of others out of their lives.

Scripture is laced with thoughts on “making the most of/redeeming the time” allotted to us by God Himself (e.g. Ecclesiastes 3: 1 – 8; Ephesians 5: 16; Colossians 4: 5).

The Fall season for many Orthodox Parishes includes refocusing on stewardship-our commitment to the Church on behalf of (and by being) Jesus Himself by offering of our “time, talent and treasure” to the Lord. Time is a major component of being in this life. In the secular world, one hears much about time management. There is no depth to anything or any relationship without devoting time in terms of quality and quantity. If how and where we spend our time shows what we feel is important, what does that mean for the Orthodox Christian?

We live in the reality that the God of heaven has invaded and transformed “time and space” in the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ, who “embodies” all that God is. Time (like history) is now the means through which God’s presence and grace are communicated to the world around us through the human beings He has created to partner with Him in the work of the rescue and restoration of all creation.

Church is the relational environment that tangibly uncovers this Reality by the Holy Spirit as members of Christ’s body in our worship and service. Rather than being some kind of “self help” program where “spirituality” is another “nice compartment” of one’s life, the Church extends and is to be the direct healing presence of Christ implementing in the world what He achieved in His death, resurrection and ascension, that will be completed at the Parousia.

The saints whose festal icons this issue of The Evangelist focuses on this month are families who were martyred, but lived common everyday lives beforehand. In them the “day to day” realities of this life (jobs, schools, etc) are not denied. God, embodied and “en-humanized” (Greek-“enanthropisanda”) in Jesus, now sanctifies the every day aspects of time and space so that we may participate in His life.

Being finite and mortal means we cannot have time for everything. Therefore we learn where we can adjust our schedules and commitments. How do we move from a “Sunday only” Christianity and Church life to being effectively changed into the new humanity patterned in the Son of God?

  • Aside from “arrow prayers” that we “shoot” through the day, having a time alone for prayer, reading Scripture, etc shapes the way we frame our other relationships. Here brevity and quality with just learning “to be” with God
  • Prioritize the important moments of worship and service the way we may prioritize our spending. If worship takes place during the weekdays, have we ever asked our employers, (as well as our children’s) teachers, coaches, etc about being excused for special religious events/major Feast-days? Other faiths do it.
  • Look to where our lives are “over scheduled,” just too crowded. Where have we enabled a “rat race” existence? Look to have enough margin (“breathing space” between things) so life isn’t just “wall to wall” running from one thing to the other. Avoid rationalizing the dysfunctional “driven-ness” that dehumanizes us.
  • Remember that the goal is “transformation” into becoming Christ, and that it takes time to “soak in.”

St Matthew’s will be hosting our first “Open House” on Saturday, September 12 at 10am. It will be a time for all interested to “come and see” who we are and what we are about. Our prayer is that as we share our faith, lives will be touched with a deeper awareness of the Lord and His presence in the Church. Also as part of our outreach, we will be having another PREP (Personal Relations Education Program) session this fall to discuss how both genders hear and communicate differently and what helps. We are also planning a Retreat in the spring open to the public on the “African Roots of Ancient Christianity.” Keep an eye on the Parish website calendar for further details.

We solicit your prayerful support and ask that you take the time to consider asking the Lord as to how you may partner with His work here at St Matthew’s. God bless you all this year.