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Tempus fugit

To think about time and the way in which we use it.

by Annaliese Renda

Suitable for Key Stage 3


To think about time and the way in which we use it.

Preparation and materials

  • You might like to have an egg timer to show the seconds running away.


  1. Begin by saying: I’m going to wait a few moments so that everyone is really ready and listening. Then wait for 20 seconds.
  2. How long was that silence? Did it seem a long time? It was actually only 20 seconds. During that silence 20 seconds ticked away – 20 seconds of your life and 20 seconds of my life. We can never bring those seconds back – they’re gone forever.
  3. That’s what life is, millions and millions of seconds ticking away. Have you ever watched a clock with the second hand moving slowly, second by second? All those seconds ticking away are adding up to the minutes that tick away, and the hours that pass and the days and months and years.
  4. When you’re bored, time seems to slow down. It’s almost as if the hands of the clock are going backwards. When you’re bored you just seem to fritter the time away, and the more bored you get, the longer the minutes and hours seem to be.
  5. Sometimes it doesn’t seem as if time is passing at all. Sometimes time seems to stop. Some people have said that when they have been, for example, involved in a car accident, everything slows down like a slow-motion film.
  6. Even if you haven’t experienced that, perhaps you can think of moments when time has seemed to freeze. For example, if you’ve ever kicked a ball towards a window, it always seems to happen so slowly. Think of the occasions when time seems to crawl very slowly, perhaps when we are waiting for someone, or the last lesson on a Friday afternoon.
  7. Then there are the occasions when the opposite happens and time flies. Usually when we are really enjoying something – a football game, a film, or when we are really concentrating on what we are doing – such as working hard in an exam. You get to the last question and look up and there are only 10 minutes to go!
  8. So although scientists will tell us that time is regular and that one second is always the same length as another, from our own point of view it doesn’t always seem like that. Time can’t really slow down or speed up, but we feel that it can.
  9. How much time do we have on this planet? Well in the Bible it says that people live for ‘three score years and ten’, which is 70, although nowadays many people live much longer than this. Let’s imagine that we all live until we are 75. That’s 75 years which is 900 months, which is 3,900 weeks, which is 27,375 days, which is 657,000 hours, which is 39,420,000 minutes.
  10. What a lot of time we have, but how do we use all this time? Most people spend a lot of it sleeping, usually about a third of all the available time they have. Then there is eating, washing, dressing, attending school or work, watching TV, playing games, reading, listening to music, going shopping, meeting friends, doing homework.
  11. On some days there don’t seem enough hours in the day for everything there is to do and we are very busy; on other days we waste a lot of time, daydreaming, messing about doing nothing much lazing in bed all Sunday morning!
  12. Think about whether you use the time you have at your disposal wisely and well. Reflect on the fact that time is  passing all the time. There is already less of it than when we started this assembly.
  13. Imagine how your life is flowing away, like one of those old-fashioned hour glasses that people used to tell the time, or the sand in an egg timer. Time is very precious. Let us make sure we use it well. Time is a gift, as life is a gift – don’t take it for granted.

Time for reflection


Most of us spend our lives as if we had another one in the bank.  (Ben Irwin)

If you wait, all that happens is that you get older. (Larry McMurtry)

When your life flashes before your eyes, make sure you’ve got plenty to watch.  (Author unknown)

Every day is an opportunity to make a new happy ending.  (Author unknown)

Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today. (James Dean)

Be happy while you’re living, for you’re a long time dead.  (Scottish proverb)



Heavenly Father,

Time is a gift that you give us,

but it is a fragile gift, a gift that does not keep.

May we do conscientiously what you want us to do,

in the time you give us,

For time is precious, as life is precious.



‘Time is a thing’ (Come and Praise, 104)

Publication date: September 2005   (Vol.7 No.9)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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