Occasionally, one wonders about the length of our services. These prospective visitors, are making sure they will not be coming to a three hour marathon every Sunday. Here is my take on God, Time, and Services.
First, time is relative. In the book “A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking, one learns that time is different depending on (1) where you are in the universe, (2) how far off the ground you are, and (3) how fast you are traveling. To give one example, if you could travel near the speed of light, you would not age as fast as someone on earth. We now know, there are no universal clocks. On earth we measure time based on earths turning (a day) and rotation around the sun (a year). This is not the same on Mars or Jupiter or in some other galaxy.
Second, God has no time. Therefore, his ‘ability’ to ‘move’ in a given length of service is the same. One does not get more of God, just because the services are longer. If you did, then perhaps we all should convert to Eastern Orthodoxy, because their services are long. 🙂
Third, most length of service discussions around the world are culturally driven. When I am in Honduras, I too preach for two hours. When I am here in Sun Prairie, I usually go for twenty five minutes.
Fourth, our length is an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes. In this ‘time,’ we try not to ‘generate’ the work of God, but rather trust that God is working. There is a big difference between us ‘priming the pump’ and ‘controlling’ how we think God should work versus just letting God work, regardless of what response we see.
Fifth, the church of the first 1600 years relied not on the length, but on the Word of God in Scripture and the Grace of God in communion. If these two arenas were covered, then a legitimate Christian service had been held and God’s grace was received.
Sixth, I think it is an act of kindness, especially in our culture, to let people out ‘on time.’ It means we prayed throughout the week, trusted God in the song choices, sermon preparation, and Scripture texts. God ‘works’ methodically in the preparation process throughout the week, not just in spontaneous moments on Sunday.
Seventh, on a somewhat separate note, if you wanted to write a theological treatise on ‘God and Time’, you could. There is actually quite a large and heady discussion on “time” in academia if you happened to be interested in spending your earth’s rotations on it. 🙂