Do we know what time it is? Luke, the Gospel writer, reminds us of the importance of knowing the time. His sorrowful sentence on the subject is unique to his Gospel. The other Gospel writers seemed to have missed it or failed to see the significance of it (like so many of us). “You did not recognize God’s moment when it came” (Luke 19:44, NEB).
The Prague astronomical clock.
The clock was first installed in 1410.
Charles Dickens tried to describe what time it was in the Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…” Do we know and understand what time it is now?
As I see the “time” (particularly in the political sphere) I think we face two dangers. The first is complacency. It is a grave mistake to assume that our American democracy is so sound and stable that nothing can shake it, change it, or destroy it. The idea that no matter who holds the highest office in the land—“everything will be all right”—is a false one! We have the lessons of history that tell us so.
Time is always mixed time, as Dickens emphasized—there is the danger of a false optimism on the one hand, and there is the danger of despair on the other. There are many who cannot believe that the American dream has been “voted down” in recent months, that bullying is being celebrated, that slurs, racial and gender innuendo are now acceptable, and that walls have become more important than people. What makes it all even more despairing is that alleged “white Christian evangelicals” have participated in this “voting down.” So many feel hopeless in the face of this despairing situation.
The important thing is to know what time it is! It is an extremely critical time right now and it calls for us to respond, not with false optimism and not with despair, but with voice and hope!