Mt. Pleasant Lutheran Church

Folding Time

May 3rd, 2017 by Pastor David Echelbarger

Folding Time

I am a Star Trek fan.  If you are too, then you’ve heard of the “warp,” which allows one to travel faster than the speed of light – which according to most theorists I’ve read is not possible.  (But who knows when you are on the event horizon of a black hole?)  Anyway back to warp.  A warp is actually folding space/time.   Take a sheet of paper and put an A on the left margin and an O on the right.  Then draw a line between the two letters.  A is for alpha, the beginning, and O is for omega, or the end.  A is the beginning of your life and the line is all of the years you have lived.  Your first tooth, first day at school, graduating, marriage, children, a golden anniversary, etc.  There is a lot of living and many years between the beginning and the end.  But imagine now that you pick up the paper and fold the A so it touches the O.  Just like that it seems like the beginning was yesterday and we might say: “That was fast!”  It seemed just like yesterday.

Memory folds time so it can seem that it was just yesterday when a major event in your life happened which actually was years and years ago.  When we get to the autumn of life, it seems like the spring was just yesterday and that summer hardly happened (we are leaving winter out).

The spring of the year is upon us.  Just a little breath of warmth and the buds are out and a green haze is present everywhere.  The trees are awake and the sap is surging upwards, driving through the brown branches pushing the leaves out of their tight capsules.  Already I have sat down with a calendar and planned major events for the summer – it seems so broad shouldered now in April when I write this, but summer will be gone in a flash, as if someone folded the paper and time just vanished.

I have been thinking to the spring days of my relationship with Christine and it too is as if someone has folded time.  Memory is faster than light. I remember meeting her when I was just sixteen years old as a paying guest at her family’s resort.  The next year my life had changed significantly from the previous summer.  She was going to college and I had my senior year of high school to complete. I was becoming a very serious student, anticipating going to Carthage and preparing for the ministry.  We took a canoe out onto the waters of Lake Chetac and we talked about many things, including God.  It was a deep talk – a connecting talk, and from that moment we have been together.

I can see her holding her father’s arm as they turned the corner to walk down the aisle of their little Methodist church where I stood waiting at the altar in my powder blue Tux.  Wasn’t that yesterday?  Then I was present at her ordination June 2, 1979, and I remember mine June 10, 1979.  They didn’t know what to do with clergy couples in those days, but we have been called to work together throughout our ministry in four different congregations.  Our wedding vows included our dream for ministry, of being more together than we could ever be apart.  That dream has been lived.

The dawn of those days is still light in my eyes.  It seems like we were just preaching our first sermons and then with a fold of time its 38 years later and the sun is sinking lower in the west and one day will kiss the horizon goodnight. What happened between year one and year 38?  So many sermons, worship services, classes taught, baptisms, stewardship drives, weddings, funerals, counseling sessions, confirmations, pastoral visitations, numerous writings, guessing nearly 2,000,000 words, phone calls made, so many projects completed, new directions undertaken, reorganizations accomplished . . .  on and on, so many, many, things and it seems like yesterday but it was a long string of yesterdays progressing back to the beginning.  Serving God is the best way to live life and we can all do it wherever we have been placed.  And thanks to the memory warp, we can revisit these experiences.  Who knew when we were young that we would be planting seeds that would grow in memory to embrace the totality of our lives?  Who knew?  And when we realize that the eternal values of love, commitment, grace, never fail, we taste eternity even when we walk this temporal earth.

Eventually, we all know, that time runs out, but living with God is timeless.  Even now we taste eternity – a feast of what truly matters – the ability – via memory to relive what has been and the promise of what will be.

One of my favorite authors, Annie Dillard, has written me a favorite quote:  “Opening up a summer cottage is like being born in this way: at the moment you enter, you have all the time you are ever going to have.”  Life is like that – today, this moment, is all the time you are ever going to have – use your time to create memory.  Eternally.

Blessings,

Pastor David L. Echelbarger

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