For those of you who have ever said, “I wish I could turn back time,” here is your chance: this week-end of Sunday November 3rd, we fall back one hour. Be sure to turn you clock back on Saturday evening prior to your departure for church.
What an opportune moment to reflect upon this idea of “time.” How is it that you can turn time back an hour? When you do that, are you actually stopping the earth from spinning or orbiting around the sun? Obviously not. Then is time imaginary? Why do we perceive something called “time?” It must refer to the passing of days which has something to do with the sun “rising” and “setting” and the amount of those days and nights it takes to get around the sun one time in a year. But the day itself? How did we end up splicing it into hours, minutes, seconds? When you set time back by one hour and it, as we have already admitted, does not change anything with regard to how long it takes the earth to spin on its axis or travel in its orbit then what exactly have you changed?
St. Augustine wrote extensively in Book XI of his Confessions about time. Here is what he said at one point, exasperated by the philosophical energy he had spent trying to understand this idea of time:
“What then is time? If no one asks me, I know: if I wish to explain it to one that asketh, I know not: yet I say boldly that I know, that if nothing passed away, time past were not; and if nothing were coming, a time to come were not; and if nothing were, time present were not. Those two times then, past and to come, how are they, seeing the past now is not, and that to come is not yet? But the present, should it always be present, and never pass into time past, verily it should not be time, but eternity. If time present (if it is to be time) only cometh into existence, because it passeth into time past, how can we say that either this is, whose cause of being is, that it shall not be; so, namely, that we cannot truly say that time is, but because it is tending not to be?”
Does that clear things up? I didn’t think so. Whatever time is, be sure to turn it back an hour before you go to sleep on Saturday. I look forward to seeing you in worship where God, who is not bound by time but has entered it on our behalf through Jesus Christ, meets us in that holy hour.