Switzerland is known for making clocks. Swiss watches are sold everywhere there. Perhaps the most famous Swiss clock is the Zytglogge in the capitol city of Bern. In Bernese German Zytglogge means “time bell.” It is housed in an 800 year old tower in the center of the old city. This timepiece is also an astronomical clock and has been accurately ticking for centuries. It has been wound daily by the same dedicated man for the last 25 years. The individual gear teeth are removable for easy replacement; it is made to last. When it chimes the time little painted wooden figures march out on one side and do their mechanical dance as tourist click pictures. Note Hans the gilded wooden bell-striker in the cupola; he rings the bell on the hour.
This clock symbolizes much about the meticulous precision we saw in the character of this country. Precision is also seen in their Swiss knives, chocolate, and cheese. We traveled mostly by trains there which are on time, too. Close to 3,000 trains a day leave the busy Zurich station! Any delay of over two minutes is announced and apologized for. Nancy and I would often say, “This country runs like a Swiss watch.” This precision time keeping is also true of passenger boats on the lakes and buses in the cities. Often electronic boat or bus stop signs also ticked off the time until a boat or bus would arrive. Might I add that the cities are all very clean and tidy. Even public toilets are cleaned regularly, sometimes after every use. Very little trash is to be seen in the streets or graffiti on walls. This preciseness is seen even in the countryside where the exactness of how they cut and stack firewood catches your eye.
This portable public street toilet looks as clean as an operating room because it is cleaned automatically. Some even have robotic arms that do the cleaning.
Swiss clocks are indicators to us of more than the time; there is a theological dimension here too. The impact of the Reformation continues to have an impact on this culture centuries later. The Gospel touches the heart and brings repentance and submission to Christ. When that is true it affects how we live as Christ becomes Lord of all. The bible has many good things to say on how we are to be diligent and use our time.
Col. 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.”
All we do should be with diligence in our daily life because it is ultimately for the glory of God. It should affect how we use our time, how careful we are in our work, how we keep things clean, how we care for others, and even being on time for events like church. :-)
With that in mind don’t forget to set your clocks BACK one hour this Saturday, November 3, as we leave daylight savings time to fall back one hour into Fall! Then get up and to Sunday School and Church on time…like a Swiss watch.