As we approach the turning of the calendar to the year 2000, there is likely to be intense speculation among some Christian groups about the end times. Many will be inspired by the Book of Revelation to look for particular signs of the end.
We are coming to the close of the season of HallowThanksMas. It begins the last week of October and extends until Christmas Day. At the end of October the children are loaded up on sugar that doesn't seem to leave their systems until early January. Shopping centers have Christmas decorations up in mid-October, and then the materialistic press to buy more and more sets in.
Only a generation ago the settled opinion was that work would soon occupy fewer and fewer of our waking hours. We were bracing ourselves for the challenge of how to spend our increased leisure time. But it hasn't worked out that way. Instead, cellphones, laptops and PDAs tether us ever more firmly to the workplace.
I was emphasizing to parents of confirmands that the young people should be with their families in worship as part of their preparation for membership. “I’m afraid we don’t have time for worship,” one mother told me after the meeting. Her words were soothing and gentle, yet they sounded condescending, as if she were explaining something to a not-very-bright child. “We’ve committed to soccer and cheerleading for my youngest on Sunday mornings. We have a full plate."
Time, like an ever-rolling stream / Bears all its sons away . . .” [or, as alt. would have it, “soon bears us all away”] would be a paralyzing line were it not for the hymn’s opening invocation. “O God, our help in ages past . . .”