AdventWord 2019: 3. Time

December 3, 2019
Advent Reflections

  • More than six years of preparation.
  • Hours and days spent in planes, trains, and automobiles to visit sites for General Convention and to attend meetings around the Church.
  • Eight days to “move in” and one day to “move out” of a convention center for General Convention.
  • Deputations are elected at least 365 days before General Convention.
  • Nine days of legislative sessions.
  • The hours and hours it takes to load the software onto over 2000 tablets to ensure that General Convention can do its legislative business.
  • The pauses in our speech to allow translators to do their invaluable work.
  • Five minutes of a pop-up prayer service.
  • Two minutes counting down at the microphones in the House of Deputies.
  • The moments of silent prayer that feel far longer than they are.
  • Hours to edit and format a new seasonal worship resource for publication on the web.
  • The turnaround time for a PDF file of the Constitution and Canons to become a paperback book on your desk.
  • A calendar in the Extranet that has the details of close to a thousand video conferences and more than one hundred in person meetings of the 67 Interim Bodies.
  • It’s 8 am in Honolulu, 8pm in Paris and 2 am tomorrow in Taiwan. How do we schedule a Zoom call?
  • One-month advance notice to provide a rooming list to a hotel.
  • Ninety minutes to flip a hotel ballroom from a meeting space to a reception and dinner space.
  • Worship services conducted and new Christians baptized in a year.
  • One hundred and twenty days for a Standing Committee to consent to the election of a new bishop.
  • The minutes it takes red wax to melt to the proper temperature for sealing a new bishop’s ordination certificate.

These are some of the ways we measure the passage of time in the General Convention Office. Time can feel linear, a systematic ticking off of tasks in preparation for an event. There are days filled with conversations with people across the Church and creation of resources from handouts to websites to reports and presentations to multivolume books. There are days that begin and end in the dark to ensure that all the pieces of General Convention happen on time and in good order. There are days that are set aside for reflection on what went well and how we can do even better next time. Of course, time is not merely measured in seconds on our watches or days on our calendar. Nor is it merely marked in tasks accomplished and events held, or even in job transitions. We are the Church; we mark time and milestones with prayer and ritual. And, of course, ultimately time is not in our hands. “O God, our times are in your hand…” [BCP, p. 830]