On time, falling short, and the hope of cousins in the river.

It’s two weeks since Christmas.

It’s one week since New Year’s Day.

I tell you that because in the hospital, it’s hard to keep track of days and time. When we are the ones who are ill or injured, our pain and medications and interruptions from the care team remove our ability to tell outside time. We are focused on making it to the next breath or treatment or visit.

When we are watching someone we love, hoping for eyes to flicker, for thinking to get clearer, for news to get better, time outside the hospital escapes us.

So it’s Sunday, two weeks after Christmas, one week into the new year.

But let’s be honest.

Even when we aren’t in the hospital, it’s hard to keep track of time. During the last three years, days and weeks have blurred together. Hours have moved too fast or slow, places of work have shifted.

But let’s be honest.

We can’t blame the pandemic for our difficult relationship with time. There has always been too much and not enough for the things we love, for the things we fear. We make commitments one Sunday and by the next week, or the next year, or the next decade, they are gone and we wonder what happened.


For our chapel services here, and in much of the Christian church, we follow the church calendar. It starts with Advent, remembering the anticipation of Christ’s first and next coming. That season ends with Christmas, for 12 days up to Epiphany. The coming of the Magi. That was Friday.

Today is the Baptism of Jesus,

And we’re on our way to Lent, starting on February 22 (Ash Wednesday) And Easter is April 9.

But I laugh a little as we jump from the birth to the visit by the kings to the baptism, at about age 30, in two weeks.

It feels like bad story-telling.

But it’s honest helping for our chaotic calendars.

Because we need to know, as our resolutions fall apart, as our Christmas good cheer fades into January clouds, as our dreams for something different end up in a hospital on the second Sunday of the year, that God’s love and work for us don’t depend on our resolve.

God’s love and work for us are shown in the willingness of Jesus to be pushed under the water in a muddy river by his cousin.


From a meditation for Sunday of the Baptism of Jesus, reflecting on Matthew 3:13-17. And I know. The photo isn’t the Jordan. It’s a stream in Germany.

2 thoughts on “On time, falling short, and the hope of cousins in the river.

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