2. Expiration Date

Expiration Date

Part 2 of the Spotlight series "Time is Passing" 
It may, of course, depend on the product, but what’s the furthest after the expiration date that you’re still willing to eat something?

Once you've broken the ice, see what this Spotlight is focused on by clicking the "focus" below.
Let’s talk about the end of time.
Listen to this audio clip when you’re ready to begin today’s Spotlight.
(And welcome, by the way! It’s great that you’re here!)
Hopefully that makes enough sense to get you started.

Pray this prayer to get into it:
You do not fear time.
You are its Lord and maker, and time answers to you,
knowing there will be a day when you’ll tell it to stop.
We don’t control time,
but we know you love us.
Remind us that time will come and go
but your love for us is eternal.
Welcome Perspective: Time was created, and like all of creation, it is transient.
God’s promises and gifts are meant to give you comfort and rest. Time, and your experience of time, is no exception - even when it is hard to see. The song “Has It Been You” is one poet’s attempt to put into words his attempt to analyze this. As he experiences time - with all the busyness, the big and small things that happen simultaneously, the unpredictable, and the routine - he attempts to see God in and through it, asking the reflective question, “All this time…has it been you?” (and hearing the implied, divine answer, “Yes.”)
Time is passing; time is transient. Though God is something different from that, he still makes use of time to do things that are transient. If he’s doing something that has a beginning and end and “accomplishing” something, he uses time for that.

Read these words as a group: 
3 So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. 4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.  6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. | Galatians 4:3–8 (NIV)

The underlined words there: “when the set time had fully come“ are more literally translated “in the fullness or totality of time.“ When all the time that needed to be finally was, God sent Jesus for us, carrying out his plan to save us, all because he loves us. God used time to serve us but he doesn’t use us to serve time.

Watch how Galatians 4 continues with this very idea:
Read these words as a group: 
8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? 10 You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! 11 I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you. | Galatians 4:8–11 (NIV)

You are not (and aren’t meant to be) a servant of time. You are not transient. You are not a slave to anything that is subject to God (time included) because you are not God’s slave. You are his heir and child. This is not to say that you are “master of time” in the same way that God is, but it does matter.

Practice thinking about this by finishing this statement with your own words: 
“If I am not a slave to time, then…” 
The idea of the fullness of time is embedded in the classic Christmas hymn, “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” Use it to close the Worship portion of this Spotlight. 

O Little Town of Bethlehem
O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep And dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting light.
The hopes and fears Of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.

For Christ is born of Mary,
And, gathered all above,
While mortals sleep, The angels keep
Their watch of wond'ring love.
O morning stars, together
Proclaim the holy birth,
And praises sing To God the King
And peace to all the earth.

How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is giv'n!
So God imparts To human hearts
The blessings of his heav'n.
No ear may hear his coming,
But in this world of sin
Where meek souls will Receive him still,
The dear Christ enters in.

O holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin And enter in;
Be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell;
Oh, come to us, Abide with us,
Our Lord Immanuel!
Worship Perspective: God makes use of time to control certain good plans - not to control you.
When we see time through the lens of God’s love and purpose for us, we find ourselves both “in” time and “outside of” time. Use the presentation below to see how much hope you gain (and can share) when you understand this both/and relationship with time and eternity. 
Learn Perspective: Time served its purpose; we’re no longer waiting for something to happen.
In this Time is Passing series, the Serve portions of the Spotlights will focus on ministry to people in prison. Today, take a look at a few ways you can serve by perusing the Prison Ministry Newsletter.
Serve Perspective: Allowing endings can be the key to finding some new beginnings.
Pray along with Augustine

In his seminal theological work, Confessions, Augustine of Hippo reflected (at some length) on the concept of time. His main takeaway? God is so much better, more, and bigger than time. Pray along with these words as they are read.

I beg of You, my God, let me know You and love You so that I may be happy in You. And though I cannot do this fully in this life, yet let me improve from day to day till I may do so to the full. Let me know You more and more in this life, that I may know You perfectly in heaven.
Let me know You more and more here, so that I may love you perfectly there, so that my joy may be great in itself here, and complete in heaven with You. O Truthful God, let me receive the happiness of heaven which You promise so that my joy may be full. In the meantime, let my mind think of it, let my tongue talk of it, let my heart long for it, let my mouth speak of it, let my soul hunger after it, let my flesh thirst after it, let my whole being desire it, until such time as I may enter through death into the joy of my Lord, there to continue forever, world without end. Amen

Prayer Requests

Each part of this series will close with a brief reflection on Jesus’ epic promise, given as he ascended into heaven. For today, reflect on what it means to you that he will be with you in an eternal way. 
Farewell Perspective: Time may be passing, but you and your God are not. You are eternal.

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