The time is out of joint

— Midweek Meditations:
thoughts, inspiration and encouragement
from ACF community members —

Pentecost is now being celebrated in our church. Its regularity on the liturgical calendar gives rhythm to our spiritual lives, this principal feast being held fifty days after Easter Sunday. However, it is also a ‘moveable’ feast, falling on a different date each year according to a solar calendar. Christians live thereby in different time frames, and we can struggle to align our holy days with our work- and schooldays.

On our journey from Easter to Pentecost, we have “to set [time] right” and not just in this everyday sense. We are also challenged in an existential sense, like Shakespeare’s Hamlet, who upon being visited by his father’s ghost feels that “[t]he time is out of joint” (Act I, scene 5, lines 186-190). Jesus’s resurrection is a shocking supernatural event that should fundamentally change the way that we perceive life and death.

The Gospel story of two of Jesus’s followers, Cleopas and an unnamed friend, on the road to and in Emmaus, relates this experience. As poignantly described by Luke (24:13-25), their afternoon and evening spent with the resurrected Jesus give them a new perspective on the notion of time and the arc of existence.

He tells and shows Cleopas and the friend that the Jesus who had recently been crucified, died, and was buried is undoubtedly alive. Jesus has risen after three days, as foretold by the Scriptures and the Prophets but not taken in by his followers. Jesus has escaped the bounds of mortality and with that, the limits of human understanding of the world. His companions’ human logic, common sense, and clock time no longer apply.

During their time together, Jesus helps the men reconsider what life is. They had hitherto lived it according to what had come before and more significantly, what would come after. He resolves their confusion, explaining that life need not be defined by death and that everything need not end in nothing. Beyond the physical another, there is another, spiritual dimension to our existence.

Jesus doesn’t tell Cleopas and the friend that (his) death and disintegration are not real. Instead, he frees them from past expectations of the future by explaining to them through his example that what seemed the end is in fact a new beginning for him and by extension for them. The notion of time as linear, unvarying, and the same for all is an illusion. Properly perceived, time contains at once the past, present, and future; can be experienced differently; and is defined ultimately by eternity. Not surprisingly, when Jesus left them, the two men returned immediately to Jerusalem to convince other followers of their new perspective.

Let us also succeed in setting time right, no longer fearing death and despairing about the passage of time. Instead, let us live life in the certain knowledge that Jesus will be with us – and that we can be with him – ‘always, to the very end of the age’.

The ACF Midweek Meditations
are written by a diverse group of our church members with the intention to seek God’s fingerprints in our lives. They range from somber to humorous and are inspired by all facets of live and faith. Written by ordinary people from all walks of life, they reflect a wide range of Christian backgrounds and spiritualities.

Each week’s text portrays the individual viewpoint of its author. They might not always resonate with everyone, and are not meant to be understood as representing the Anglican Church Freiburg as a whole. Yet, as a church that is aiming to ‘Build a Community of Grace’ we seek to practice learning from and listening to one another.

We pray that these humble ponderings add a small spark of blessing to your week.

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