Galatians 4:4-7 (First Sunday after Christmas—Series B)
Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Enfield, CT
December 28, 2014
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Our text is the Epistle lesson from Galatians 4:
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
Alice sighed wearily. “I think you might do something better with the time,” she said, “than wasting it in asking riddles that have no answers.” “If you knew Time as well as I do,” said the Hatter, “you wouldn’t talk about wasting it. It’s him.” “I don’t know what you mean,” said Alice.
“Of course you don’t,” said the Hatter, tossing his head contemptuously. “I dare say you never even spoke to Time!”
Strange things happen to Alice in her adventures in Wonderland. No doubt her encounter with the Mad Hatter at his tea party would be one that Alice would not forget. Stranger still, this girl who loved to sit and daydream instead of learning her school lessons has no use for wasting time when it came to riddles that had no answer. Then she finds herself being criticized by that Hatter because, apparently, Time isn’t an “it” but a “him” and so you can’t waste it. Strange, isn’t it?
It seems like everyone has trouble with time. Seconds tick away into minutes, minutes into hours, hours into days, days into months, and months into years. We live in a society dominated and even controlled by time. “It’s time to get up. It’s time to go to school. It’s time to go to work. It’s time to do your homework. It’s time to give your presentation. It’s time for dinner. It’s time to clean the house. It’s time to play. It’s time to go to bed.” Time, time, time. What do we do with time?
We use time and we abuse time. Time is God’s gift to us. When God created the world He created time for our good, for our use to His glory and our benefit. In Genesis 1 we read, “And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.’ And it was so.” (1:14-15) But we often fail to use God’s gift of time appropriately. We might use our time selfishly, just for ourselves and never to show love to our neighbor. Frequently our time is spent willingly doing things which God’s Word says we ought not to do. We waste time on sinful practices, lusts, and desires that make us feel good here and now. We fail to devote ample time to the reading and hearing of God’s Word and to prayer. Equally as bad and troubling is the power we allow time to have over ourselves. We allow time’s demands to worry us. We allow time to dictate our lives and actions. This means that quite often time becomes what we answer to. It becomes our god, a “him” instead of an “it.” We allow ourselves to become slaves time: to minutes and hours, letting them dictate what we do and how much “time” we give to something, be it sleep, cooking, working, or engaging in the Lord’s Scriptures.
Now I’m not saying that if you are to work 9-5, that you forget about time and show up at half past noon and work until 12:45. There are schedules that we all must keep, but we don’t let those schedules control us and who we are. God did not give us time to burden us, but to assist us in our days. Should we ever say, “I’m too busy for . . . ,” that means that there is a problem with our use of God’s time. We are abusing His gift and using time to our harm instead of for our help. I ran across this poem called “No Time to Play.” I think this illustrates the problem pretty well.
My precious boy with the golden hair
Came up one day beside my chair
And fell upon his bended knee
And said, “Oh, [Daddy], please play with me!”
I said, “Not now, go on and play;
I’ve got so much to do today.”
He smiled through tears in eyes so blue
When I said, “We’ll play when I get through.”
But the chores lasted all through the day
And I never did find time to play.
When supper was over and dishes done,
I was much too tired for my little son.
I tucked him in and kissed his cheek
And watched my angel fall asleep.
As I tossed and turned upon my bed,
Those words kept ringing in my head,
“Not now, son, go on and play,
I’ve got so much to do today.”
I fell asleep and in a minute’s span,
My little boy is a full-grown man.
No toys are there to clutter the floor;
No dirty fingerprints on the door;
No snacks to fix; no tears to dry;
The rooms just echo my lonely sigh.
And now I’ve got the time to play;
But my precious boy is gone away.
I awoke myself with a pitiful scream
And realized it was just a dream
For across the room in his little bed,
Lay my curly-haired boy, the sleepy-head.
My work will wait ‘til another day
For now I must find some time to play.
“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” God our Father used the gift of time to rescue us from our misuse of time. In time, in a very real hour, minute, and second, God’s Son Jesus was born for us. The timeless God became man and took upon Himself the limits of time for us. In Jesus’ earthly life, He showed us how to use our time for the glory of God and for the benefit of other people. Jesus spent the perfect amount of time with God’s Word and in prayer. Jesus showed us how to use our time to love our neighbors as ourselves. But more than being just an example, Jesus lived His perfect life in time, keeping all of God’s commandments, so that we would be redeemed. Where we fail to keep the Word of God, where we fail to help others, where we allow time to be our god, Jesus didn’t. Jesus took away these sins from us and He died for them on the cross. In that moment in time, the Son of God bled and died for all of our sins, making us right with God, redeeming us from the power of sin and death, making us His adopted sons and daughters. Because of God’s Son, Jesus, we are the inheritors of all the blessings of God’s eternal, timeless kingdom—forgiveness, life, and salvation.
Because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, you and I are no longer slaves—to sin, to death, to the devil, or to time. We are now able, by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us, to rightly use the gift of time to the glory of God, for the helping of others, and for our own blessing. We can use good time management skills to assist us in scheduling our day, but not controlling our day. We are able to be more flexible and to enjoy and rejoice in the hours and minutes the Lord has given us to be and to live as His forgiven and redeemed people. We can “go with the flow” and not stress out about it because we know that time is God’s gift for us to use for our physical and spiritual health and life.
Martin Luther was definitely one saint of God who used every possible hour of the day. But he learned how to approach time and all the things that had to be accomplished. He knew how it would all get done, and it surprisingly wasn’t by rushing into the day. Luther said, “I have so much to do today that I shall spend the first 3 hours in prayer.” Time was not his god. The Lord was His God. Luther knew that on his own he would accomplish very little and stress out very much if he did not spend ample time with God in His Word and in prayer.
The Lord has blessed us with time. Christ came into time to save us from all sins and death. Christ came to make holy our use of time, so that time would not be a burden, but a blessing. Use the time God gifts you with in the year to come to His glory, to your blessing, and for the helping of many others. Spend quality time with the Lord in His Word and in prayer. Let the Holy Spirit guide your use of time throughout each day. And when you feel pressured and stressed and overwhelmed because there is “not enough time,” stop what you are doing and spend that time you do have in prayer, seeking first His kingdom, and everything else will fall into place according to God’s good and gracious will. A Blessed New Year of our Lord Two-thousand Fifteen to all of you in the Name of Jesus. Amen.