“How long have you been here?” This is the third of three questions (“Where are you from?” and “What do you do?”) that dominate early and getting-to-know you conversations in my city of Brussels, Belgium. They dominate most cities and introductions. And many people will know what today is. Today is the three year anniversary of the Referendum; for those of us who feel the passage of time in weightier ways, it has been 1095 days. Empires have risen and fallen in less time; the public ministry of Jesus is believed to have been a similar length of time. In the last three years, so much in the world has changed, including the political landscape in many countries. How long has it been? How long will it be? Sometimes it just feels like forever. In either our despair or our unfulfilled hope, we lose time, and we may begin to pray, “How long, O Lord, how long?”

This particular blog post is about waiting for Brexit, which at some moments resembles a similarly titled play by Samuel Beckett. But it also about more than that, because there is something far more important than that at stake in our times of waiting: it is about the redemption of time. St. Paul tells us something about this in Ephesians 5, put most poetically, in my opinion, in the Authorised version: “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” So, what does it mean to redeem the time and how does that change how we think, act, and pray?

Redeeming the time is about making most of the time that we’ve been given, which means that it is also about remembering that time is a gift. While we are waiting for something to happen, we put energy into imagining it happening -- what we will do, what we will say, who we will call, where we will go. People who want the UK to leave the European Union imagine the greatness that will come (more freedom, more prosperity, etc.); people who want the UK to remain in the European Union imagine the great continued possibilities (freedom of travel and work, continued peace processes, etc.). And as each imagine, they are creating those possibilities, their time being given over to those possibilities. But, as I asked in the last post, does that build the Kingdom? We have been given a certain amount of time, a certain amount of energy, and St. Paul reminds us to be aware of how that time is passing. Are we building something eternal, lasting? Or do we spend our days and the energy we have on impermanent things? It is a complicated question, and one that I am not attempting to answer, merely raise. We are each called to reflect on it: how could I be using the time I’ve been given more wisely, for more Kingdom building? How can I imagine, in this time of waiting for the Kingdom to come, more possibilities for that Kingdom, for God’s presence and power and love to be made more real here on earth as it is in heaven? How am I using the gift of time that I’ve been given?

Three years is not a long time, and it is a long time. I don’t know where the UK will be in its relationship with the EU in another three -- perhaps having left, perhaps having remained, perhaps having left and rejoined; who knows? I do know that today is the day of salvation, that God wants to bring love, peace, grace, forgiveness, and hope today. And all 1095 days from today to three years from now. How long, O Lord? Not long. The Kingdom is coming, and we are building it. Together.