School Days and God's time

In the kingdom of heaven school begins on the day after Labor Day and ends on the Friday before Memorial Day. That children are already back at school (as is the case in Texas) or will be stuck in school until late June (as is the case in New York) is a manifest and painful sign of humankind’s fall. God did not intend things to be this way.


Sacred time is different from the world’s time. Let me offer another instance.

The Christmas season begins with Evening Prayer on December 24, and runs to the feast of the Epiphany, January 6. In the world, however, Christmas begins in earnest sometime in November and runs hard right up to about noon on December 25 when, like an utterly strung-out marathon runner, it folds into a heap of exhaustion. 

When I was much younger (and a rector in charge of such things), I persuaded folks that we could relieve some of the pre-Christmas exhaustion by having a children’s Christmas pageant on Epiphany. It worked out okay. It was wonderful that we could delay it, and also wonderful to have a big party for the Epiphany. I think we did Evening Prayer, then pageant, then a feast on lots of sugary things, including (if memory serves, an increasingly risky proposition) an Epiphany cake. If your church has a hundred people on Sunday, to have fifty people on a weeknight is extraordinary fun.

The drawback, of course, is that by the time Epiphany arrives school has resumed, and having a church party with children on a school night is not easy. But the obvious response is: sacred time is different than secular time, and here we have a chance to teach and live out that truth (even though any particular date is of course arbitrary). God’s time is not the same as the time of the world.

(Footnote: It’s not too early to think about planning your children’s pageant for Epiphany.)


It is of course onery to say that, in God’s kingdom, school runs from Labor Day to Memorial Day. But I am dead serious about my point. Time in this world is out of sync with God’s time. To notice that is to be discomforted in a manner that just might help us love God, and God’s own time, more than we do.


Out & About. Besides reading J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit for our seminar on September 18, I am preparing with joy my notes for the fall theology lecture, to be given Sunday evening, October 9: “The Theology of Walking,” with reflections (and maybe pictures) from the Camino de Santiago which I walked in the spring. Both the seminar and the lecture are open to anyone interested in coming, and will be at Church of the Incarnation in Dallas (probably at 5 p.m.).

On the Web. My sermon on “Cain and His Sign” can be found HERE. As you will see, it is a close reading of Genesis 4, the result of years of pondering why Cain and Abel offered sacrifices, why God did not give Cain’s sacrifice the “regard” he gave to Abel’s, and what it means that God’s character is to wait.

The Rev. Canon Victor Lee Austin. Ph.D., is the Theologian-in-Residence for the diocese and is the author of several books including, "Friendship: The Heart of Being Human" and "A Post-Covid Catechesis.: