Formations 05.01.2016: Biding our Time

Acts 1:1-14

On an average day between 6:30am and 7:30am, you’re probably waking up and getting ready for the day. Then you either head to work, run errands, do housework, or take care of others in your home. From noon to 1:00pm, you probably transition from your job or housework to eating and drinking, maybe taking some time to relax, before heading back to work. At around 5:00pm, it’s time to end your work for the day and begin preparing and/or eating dinner. Then you relax, do housework, get ready for bed, and sleep until the next day. At least, this is how most people in the United States spend their time in an average day, according to the American Time Use Survey.

A non-animated version of Nathan Yau’s illustration published on, using colored lines to represent paths as people move between each activity in an average day. Extracted with data from the American Time Use Survey n 2014.

A non-animated version of Nathan Yau’s illustration published on, using colored lines to represent paths as people move between each activity in an average day. Extracted with data from the American Time Use Survey n 2014.

One statistician found this data especially interesting, and turned it into a mesmerizing simulation that breaks down the way we spend our time throughout a day. Nathan Yau’s illustration represents people as colored dots that move from one activity to another as time passes. A yellow dot turns green when it moves from Sleeping to Eating & Drinking, gray when it jumps to Traveling, then pink when it gets to Work. As you might guess, the sections that get the most dots are the aforementioned, in addition to Housework, Leisure, and Education. Activities like Phone Calls, Professional Care Services, Volunteering, seem to get the fewest visits from dots throughout the day. Religion stays at less than 1% most of the time, with the most activity only at 3% for a short amount of time around 9:00am.

John Singleton Copley, “Ascension”, 1775, oil on canvas (Wikimedia Commons).

John Singleton Copley, “Ascension”, 1775, oil on canvas (Wikimedia Commons).

In this week’s passage, Jesus shares his time with his disciples, working through the Spirit and assuring them that he is alive “with many convincing proofs” (v. 3). But suddenly, he commands his disciples to stay in Jerusalem to wait for the Holy Spirit, and then he leaves. It is unclear what exactly they are supposed to be waiting for, and what they are supposed to do with their time while they wait. Do they go about their daily lives, moving from one activity to the next like the dots in Yau’s simulation? What activities are appropriate during this waiting period? How will they know they’re waiting with a purpose?

“A Day in the Life of Americans,” Nathan Yau,, 15 December 2015 (accessed 19 April 2016) <>.


• How do you feel when you are told to wait for something?
• How would you have to spend your time to make you feel productive at the end of the day?
• What Scriptures help instruct the way you spend your day?
• Think of someone who you think is productive and focused in their daily life. How do they make their faith a priority?

Reference Shelf

The Ascension of Christ

Luke is the only writer of the NT who gives a description of the ascension of Christ. However, there is a variation between the account that he gives in his Gospel and the record of the event in Acts. The difference has to do with both time and place of the occurrence. In Luke’s Gospel the reader gets the impression that Jesus ascended on the same day as the resurrection (24:51). In Acts there is an interval of forty days between the resurrection and the ascension (1:3-11).

Luke in his Gospel locates the ascension at Bethany (24:50), a village about a mile-and-a-half from Jerusalem on the eastern slope of the mount of Olives. This was the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, who were prominent persons in the Fourth Gospel. In Acts the place is not given but it is assumed that it was the Mount of Olives because the author says that the apostles returned to Jerusalem from Olivet after the ascension (1:12). Olivet was a hill to the east of Jerusalem. It was here, on the eve of the crucifixion, that Jesus agonized in prayer.

In addition to the variations concerning time and place it is quire noticeable that there is a discrepancy about the content of Jesus’ teaching in relation to this occasion. For the Gospel of Luke, the subject matter is the prophetic fulfillment of the Messiah’s passion, death, and resurrection (24:44-47). On the contrary, in Acts Jesus speaks to the apostles about the Kingdom during the space of forty days (1:3). The two accounts do agree that Jesus promised his disciples that they would receive the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8).

T. C. Smith, “Ascension of Christ,” Mercer Dictionary of the Bible, ed. Watson E. Mills et al. (Macon GA: Mercer University Press, 1990), 66.

Michelle Meredith is a graduate of Mercer University, where she was the editor for literary and arts magazine The Dulcimer. She taught third and fourth grade in Mississippi for two years with Teach for America and became even more obsessed with live music and southern food (don’t even get her started on Delta tamales). She loves comedy, board games, roller derby, and hanging out with her dog. She is happy to be back in Macon, Georgia as the associate editor of Formations.


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