On Time - Coming Late

By Marilyn Kettering Badger

October 17, 2016

More than one tour leader and/or bus driver has made an announcement similar to this:

“If you come early, you are on time;
If you come on time, you are late;
If you come late – you are left behind.”

Some will then go on to explain how disrespectful it is to all the others involved to hold up the tour or bus trip because of your behavior.  The “Old Brethren” must have also believed it was disrespectful to others and to God.  From The Old Brethren by James H. Lehman. Elgin. Illinois: The Brethren Press, 1976, page 108: “In describing the Old Brethren, H. R. Holsinger, History of the Tunkers and the Brethren Church. (Lathrop, California: privately printed. 1901.) says,

          “The members, having alighted from their plain, almost crude vehicles, are greeting one another with the holy kiss.  They linger around the church doors to quiet converse(ation).  It yet lacks ten minutes of the appointed hour for worship, but the worshipers have all arrived.  There is an unwritten law against the late comer which no discreet Tunker (or Brethren) will violate.”

      “Our description concerns a typical Tunker congregation, such as could be seen anywhere in the fraternity about the middle of the nineteenth century (1800’s).  Meeting day was the great Sabbath of the month.  All who were physically able to be out, were sure to be there.  Tunker houses (homes) were closed that day, the whole family and the help was at church.  They never were and never will be more diligent in this respect than during the period mentioned.  Duty called them to the house of God, but another and still louder call urged them.  It was the call of love.  They loved one another, and they loved to meet and greet each other at the doors of the sanctuary.”

 Have you run into the situation where almost everyone is ready but one or a few hold up the whole proceedings that are meant to happen?   We all have.  It is a modern day thing to be “fashionably late,” whatever that means.  Is it to be noticed?  Is it to give attention to self?  Is it to make a statement of self-importance? Is it poor planning?  What is it?

 Obviously, according to the early Brethren, it was a “no-no”; almost a sin.  Understand that they were driving a horse and buggy a good distance to get to their locations so planning ahead was necessary!! And it required cooperation of the whole family, the horse, the road conditions, the weather, the “other” factor of anything that could come up.  I remember growing up under this standard in our home.  Plan ahead, be ready.  Lay your clothes out prepared the night before.  First is better than last.  Do not show disrespect to others.  Much of this is lost today in a world of “I’ve got my rights” which only emphasizes me, without concern for others.  What a selfish approach to living.  We used to tease our father that he opened the church (first to arrive) and he closed the church (last to leave).  Realistically this went back the early training from home from mother’s family.

 I’m glad this was not one of the ten commandments for me to remember.  And aren’t we glad that Jesus said that those ten can fit into two to remember. One to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind, and two, to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.  Yep, I think that covers coming to church or Sunday school or meetings – to put others first is definitely not putting ourselves first or tv news, preachers, or entertainment of other kinds.  Being there on time is a directive from the Lord!

Prayer:  Lord help us to see that serving YOU and others is more important than serving self.  Amen     

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