I have a super power. I know you’re skeptical, but it’s true. Ask my wife, Jennifer. I have known for many years that I have this special ability, and it never fails… lines form behind me. Yes, that is my secret super power. When I arrive at a restaurant, movie theater, theme park, or anywhere people queue in lines, a line that wasn’t previously there will appear behind me. It is a phenomenon, and I am not making it up…lines form behind me. In fact, the longer I sit here typing this, the more likely it is that a line of people will start gathering adjacent to or directly behind me. I am a human velvet rope. I hope to only use this power for good.
If I take an honest look at my so-called super power, there are probably personal habits which I practice that result in lines forming behind me. For example, I arrive early to most destinations, which tends to put me ahead of the crowd. I wake up early in the morning for work, so my lunch hour is 11 a.m. instead of the more traditional 12 p.m. As a result, the 12 o’clock lunch crowd arrives just after I get my order in at the counter, and thus lines up behind me. Another explanation is that once I get to my destination, I take my time and that means folks just have to wait.
So, it may not be much of a super power, but my military upbringing has made me a neurotic schedule-keeper; if I am early then I am on time, if I am on time I am late, and if I am late… so help me. This has long been my mentality for schedule-keeping. Now imagine the first time I encountered ‘Element Time.’
You all know what I am talking about. Element Time is the five minutes that our congregation runs behind the rest of the population of the Central Coast of California. We are a geographical oddity. Sunday services are scheduled for 8:15, 9:30 and 11:00, so naturally we get started promptly at 8:21:33, 9:35:17, and 11:06:03. Yet somehow we always finish the service on time. This means that we are able to accomplish one hour worth of worship, announcements and preaching in 55 minutes. And, for some reason, it works. In fact, it works well. Sure, Aaron has to preach at the pace of a Barrett Jackson auctioneer, but the worship is powerful and the messages are Biblical, scholarly, and most of all, Christ-honoring.
Recently, my personal conundrum with Element time has shifted to wistful nostalgia. I am currently on the church-home hunt at my new assignment in Maryland. Church services in Maryland lasts for one hour and forty-five minutes, period. No matter the denomination -- Evangelical, Baptist, Fundamentalist, you name it -- one hour and forty-five minutes. If Aaron preached for an hour after forty-five minutes of announcements and songs, you would duct tape him to a wall. Needless to say, I miss Element Time.
Thanks to Aaron, Ryan, James and Michelle Gee, I now have the worship attention span of a gnat. Look, of course I am kidding -- a short service is not superior to a long service for reasons of brevity, nor is a long service good because you are worshiping longer. Element Time is just special. On Element time you get a Biblically dense message book-ended by Christ honoring corporate worship music. If you have gotten the chance to experience it, you are blessed. I find that after two hours of structured church, most people have just enough energy left to go home. I find after 55 minutes of Element Time, you are ready to fellowship with one another in the lobby or over lunch. That is a good thing.
I am now going to shoe horn scripture into my blog so Aaron will publish it. Jesus probably doesn’t sweat the length or starting time of our service nearly as much as I do. In fact Jesus ordains situations in our lives where the timing just makes no sense at all to us. Think about the man born blind from John 9. When the disciples of Jesus viewed his disability, they questioned whether it was the result of the man’s sin or if it was the result of his parents’ sin. Jesus said neither. In fact, Jesus then showed His disciples that the man was born blind for this ordained moment in history. Jesus said the man was disabled so he could be healed. God the Father orchestrated this time and place so God the Son could be glorified.
Only God can heal the blind. In His wisdom God chose that this man was to be born blind, so that you and I would have the opportunity to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. A series of events began many years before that day that started with a man being born without his sight and our Lord and Savior being born in a manger. And at the correct time, by no coincidence, Jesus healed that man, giving us the opportunity to believe that the Son of Man has the power to heal, and therefore the power to forgive sins.
So, lines might not form behind me because of my super powers. Maybe it is just the timeline on which I live my life that results in people queuing in my wake. The real question is, what am I going to do with that line of people waiting there behind me? God knew from the foundation of the world that we would all just be waiting there together. Perhaps He sent me to start a line so that they might know that the Son of Man has the power to forgive their sins.
That is my kind of Element Time.