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Get me to the church on time

This week's reflection is from the Associate Vicar

My family was notoriously late for church. All the time.

Notoriously, because my father was chancellor of the Diocese of Chicago, and insisted on our sitting in the second pew from the front at St James Cathedral no matter how late we were. If we were lucky we'd enter with the choir during the opening hymn. More often we entered during the Collect for Purity, half the family already seething at the other half, tromping down the long aisle of the cathedral. It was especially memoriable when my brother had knocked over the powder fire extinguisher in our kitchen just before we left, and we were still trailing clouds of...well certainly not glory, but a fine white powder from shoes and hems and pockets!

Great St Mary's ought to be one of the most famous time-keepers in England. We are, after all, the home of the Cambridge Quarters, those quater-hour bongs later copied by the Palace of Westminster. We have the University Clock (and it's own 'Keeper of the University Clock' in the person of Dr Frank King). But we're also a diverse community, living at different distances from the church and with different needs and limitations, different households and different circadian rhythmns. And after the upheaval of the past year, we are this month settling into a new schedule for Sunday worship (8am, 10am, 5pm). A little later for our online community, a little earlier for those who had just gotten used to 10.30am in church. Some of us for the first few weeks will show up a bit too early, or sneak in during the peace. Some of us, like my family in Chicago, might be late no matter what time worship begins.

Time is a creature — it is something which was created by God, and therefore something which is being redeemed and perfected through Christ. Time might feel disjointed, too fast or too slow, or just unsettling — but rather than fighting against Time, I try these days to have a fellow-feeling for Time as another beautiful and baffling part of creation alongside whom we wait with eager longing for redemption. We are not beholden to Time, but journey alongside Time as fellow travellers and fellow creatures — how else could we pray without ceasing, except that Time itself is praying alongside of us?

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