When is the right time?

Every fortnight people from a farming background in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, or who have a heart for the countryside, offer a personal reflection on faith and rural life. They hope that you will be encouraged by it.

A man who faithfully attended his church was surprised by the absence of stewards in the foyer one Sunday. Nevertheless, coat removed, he stood joining in the singing of the opening hymn. As it ended he was just about to sit down when the minister pronounced the benediction. It was the last hymn! Then it suddenly hit him that this was the last weekend in October and he had forgotten to put his clocks back.

Tonight I hope you will remember to make the required adjustment and not get confused. If you are a dairy farmer you can be sure the milk tanker driver will have adjusted their time of collection for tomorrow morning!

The UK began putting its clocks forward in 1916 as a wartime measure, and it has stayed with us – with two hours forward and one hour back (Double British Summer Time) between 1941 and 1945. The merits of moving clocks forward each spring and back in the autumn however, have been widely debated. For the farmer what is termed ‘outside work’ in the fields has finished and the changing of the clocks at the end of October usually coincides with a fair portion of the heavier stock being housed for the winter. The nature of the farmer’s work may change somewhat, but there is no let-up in the demands.

In the Bible we find many references to time. The opening verses of Ecclesiastes 3 are often quoted in happy and sad times. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens...” it says. In many churches harvest thanksgiving services have just concluded, reminding us that God has appointed a time of harvest in the physical realm, and the spiritual too. In Jesus’ Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13, He makes it clear that a time is coming, the end of the age, which will bring judgement upon those who reject God.

Today, we might well look at a world in turmoil and wonder how many more times will we carry out this time-honoured custom of resetting the clocks, before the present world comes to an end? The Bible informs us that this world will pass away with Jesus coming again, ushering in a new heaven and earth, yet ‘…about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come’ (Mark 13 32-33.)

If you are a Christian, the fact you and I do not know the time of the return of Jesus should not concern us, but rather encourage us to serve Him while there is still the opportunity. However, we cannot serve Jesus before we first know Him as our personal Saviour. For me the most crucial reference to time in the Bible is found in 2 Corinthians 6:2. The Apostle Paul declares“…behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (KJV.)

It would be unwise to ignore the practice of putting the clocks back tonight, as you would be out of sync with everyone else. However, to put off turning in repentance to Christ is far more serious. You risk far more than a little inconvenience – you risk losing out on a home in heaven, reserved for those who know Jesus as Saviour, and friend. Clock’s ticking.

Having grown up in rural Tyrone, after leaving school at the age of 16, Knox worked for over 20 years on the family dairy farm near Aughnacloy. Having felt the call of God to full-time ministry, he was ordained in 2005 serving as minister of two Presbyterian congregations for 14 years. In 2019 he was called to be minister of Aghadowey and Crossgar Presbyterian Churches in County Londonderry.

If you would like to talk to someone about any of the issues raised in this article, please email Rev Kenny Hanna, PCI’s Rural Chaplain at [email protected] or call him on 07938 488 372.