Daylight Saving Time and the Post-Christendom Era

OK, that seems like a bizarre tie-in, like skiing and doing your taxes*, but stick with me. Spring forward is my least favorite weekend of the year. I don't know why one little hour should feel like such a monumental loss. I'm hoping that this year's emphasis on Sabbath can help put things in perspective. (Hey, the hour's just on loan until November anyway.)

Having small children slightly cushions the blow of spring forward, since they end up sleeping later on Sunday, or maybe I should say they sleep fake-later since it's all screwy anyway. And they end up being cranky because they effectively went to bed an hour later than they're used to. OK, I'm going back to my earlier contention, which is that it bites.

My church growing up did a novel thing that, had I been a parent, I would have totally loved. They sprang forward together at the end of church. That way nobody lost their hour in the middle of the night---no groggy morning or cranky children (well, no crankier than usual). So church would end at noon, but to the rest of the world, it was 1:00. The pastor would close the service with an announcement, and I remember everyone taking off their watches and resetting them to catch up to everyone else living in daylight saving time. My guess is that they paired it with a couple of lines of scripture about God as the author of time or somesuch.

I don't know who came up with that idea, but they were a pastor after my own heart. I don't even believe in God until at least 9:00 in the morning.

I've talked this up in every church where I've been on staff, but even I agree it's just not practical. The number of clocks all around us has increased, on appliances and phones and computers, and many of those clocks automatically update themselves. But not all. So it would be incredibly confusing to keep track of the old time and the new time. But more importantly, church isn't the only thing going on Sunday any more. There are sports practices and concerts. We don't get to live on a different clock from everyone else.

On one level, this is just another small example of how the world has changed. Big deal. But there's a larger message there too, for everything from liturgical seasons to secular holidays, and that's this:

The church doesn't get to tell the world what time it is.

We simply proclaim the gospel message, that is simultaneously timeless and bleeding-edge, in whatever time we're in.


*Name the 1980s movie this line comes from!