LEAven Blog


It’s about Time! A Reflection on the Time of Christmas

Forty-six years ago, I read a new book about time management by R. Alec MacKenzie titled, The Time Trap. It is now in its fourth edition and is still a worthwhile read. It has many excellent suggestions for managing one’s time, but the primary concept of the book can be summed up in one sentence:

“You cannot save time, you can only spend it.”

 The idea of saving time was well engrained in my mind, but the idea of spending time, as if it were a precious commodity, was something I really hadn’t given much attention. MacKenzie’s thesis was simple: We have a limited amount of time—it is precious—so how does one choose what is worthy of spending one’s time?

 Since I read The Time Trap, I have spoken to teacher’s conferences, schoolchildren and their parents, and college students about how to manage time, i.e. spend time. I always ask, “Is what you are spending your time on worthwhile? If the old expression, “Time is money!” is true, are you bankrupting your “time account” by what you choose to do, or are you investing your time in truly worthwhile (time worthy) pursuits?”

 How we spend our time has become more difficult over the Covid years and will be exacerbated as the Christmas season approaches. We are pulled in every direction at this particular time of the year. We feebly attempt to prioritize how we spend our time, but far too many “time traps” arise, such as:

  1. Christmas shopping—better have every present ordered ahead of time because of supply chain problems! Oh, no! The toys the kids want are stuck in San Francisco for the next 10 weeks!
  2. Family’s is coming over for Christmas dinner—better clean the house thoroughly or I’ll be criticized by great aunt Brunhilda!
  3. Have to write the Christmas letter to put into the Christmas cards that need to be addressed right now so they will arrive in time because the U.S. Post Office is being overwhelmed! Arrrrgh!
  4. Just ran out of wrapping paper—have to go to Walmart again! Arrrgh, arrrgh! And it’s Christmas Eve!
  5. Have to write and direct the children’s Christmas Eve service. Need to be finished on time so we can start rehearsals! I wish I’d started writing this in August! Sigh….
  6. Fill in your own “time traps” here: ________________________(Sorry there’s not more room to write!)

Now, take a breath. Breathe in—and breathe out… Consider what is truly important during this season, and, for that matter, every season of your life. Think of the things that are of greatest importance and start to relax in the Gospel. Christ came to bring peace to troubled hearts and to bring comfort to the lonely, the poor, and those who are ill in body, mind, and soul.[1] In the time of Caesar Augustus, God sent his Son—that’s God’s kairos time, i.e., the time where God is in control—when God’s will is done—when the miracles of salvation occur. God’s kairos time is not like our chronos,or chronological time, that is measured in seconds, minutes, and days. Kairos time is when God creates the universe, makes covenants, raises Christ from the dead, takes hold of us in our baptism, and grants us eternal life.

We need to reset our clocks to kairos time wherein we can “ponder anew what the Almighty can do”[2] and to reflect on how to prioritize our “to do” list as we take our ease in the miracle of Jesus’ incarnation. Would it be earthshattering if the Christmas letters didn’t make it to its destination until the third week in Epiphany? Would our Christmas celebrations be ruined if only the bathroom was cleaned, or if there were only four, instead of six, courses for Christmas dinner?

Take a few moments of your chronological time to focus on the essentials in your life, not the peripherals, so your heart and soul might be centered on, and lived in that kairos time when God sent the Promise of Promises to the world. May the Spirit of Christ fill you as you relax in the goodness, righteousness, and love of God during this blessèd Christmas season and in all the seasons to come.

John 1: 1-5; 14 (ESV)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

[1] The Hebrew word for soul is nephfesh (נֶ֫פֶשׁ‎) – pronounced neh-fesh. It has a deep meaning that should not be confused with the Greek philosophical concept of the soul as kind of a ghost that lives within us and released from us when we die. The nephfesh is our innermost being, our mind, desires, emotions, breath, everything that is within us, our life itself; our whole living being. Nephesh in Hebrew refers to the throat because everything that we depend on for life comes into us through our throat; our breath, our food, our drink. When we worship and praise God we do it with our nephesh – our entire being.

[2] From the hymn: “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty.” Lutheran Service Book #790. Author: Joachim Neander (1680); Translator:

 Katherine Winkworth (1863).

Dr. Jeffrey E. Burkart, former Associate Dean of the College of Vocation and Ministry and Coordinator of Lutheran Teacher Education, now serves in retirement as Emeritus Professor of Education and Artist in Residence at Concordia University, St. Paul, MN. He is a nationally known teacher, author, speaker, dramatist, poet and musician. Dr. Burkart has over 200 publications including 12 books, numerous professional journal articles, book reviews, chancel dramas, Christian musicals, hymns, poems, CD recordings, films and videos.

Before coming to Concordia, St. Paul, he taught in LC-MS elementary, junior high, and secondary schools in Indiana, Missouri, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. He and his wife, Martha, have three grown sons (Jonathan, David and Andrew) who all are proud graduates of King of Kings Lutheran School and Concordia Academy, Roseville, MN.

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