Killing Time?

By Mark A. Kellner
Posted June 24, 2019

Sommarøy, Norway, is a quaint fishing village in the far north of the country, 22 miles from the nearest city and many hours from Oslo, the nation’s capital. Approximately 321 residents call Sommarøy home, apart from the tourists who visit for the white sand beaches that are quite popular.

Also popular, it appears, are the 69 days of the year in which the sun does not set at all. For those days, activities take place around the clock—it’s easier to paint one’s home at 2:00am when there’s less wind, locals say, and fishermen are out anyway. So what’s the big deal?

Well, Sommarøy has hit upon an idea that has certainly garnered the town a lot of attention around the world, however remote the chances are that it will be enacted: Sommarøy has petitioned the Norwegian government to be declared the world’s first “time-free” zone. Residents claim they literally want to “kill” the notion of time.

According to a CNN report on Sommarøy, which means Summer Island, “the sun doesn't set from May 18 right through to July 26, a full 69 days. The locals, having endured the long polar night from November to January, when the sun doesn’t rise at all, make the most of these precious months, with no regard to conventional timekeeping.”


No Watches Needed

Kjell Ove Hveding, the Sommarøy resident leading the campaign, recently presented a petition to a Norwegian parliamentarian to move the case forward. “To many of us, getting this in writing would simply mean formalizing something we have been practicing for generations,” Hveding told CNN.

The “practice” includes strapping watches to the rails of a bridge connecting the island to the mainland. Residents want to replace timepieces with bands of flowers on their wrists, reports said.

The sun doesn’t always shine on Sommarøy, Hveding admits: From November until January, the island, which sits north of the Arctic Circle, is encased in darkness for 24 hours a day. Slivers of daylight appear, culminating in the “endless summer” period beginning in mid-May and ending toward the end of July. The rest of Norway observes time shifts from “winter” to “summer” hours, but not Sommarøy.

“When people in the government of Norway are talking about wintertime and summertime and moving the clock, we have a good laugh up here,” Hveding told NPR.

Whether or not the Norwegian parliament grants residents’ requests and declares Sommarøy a “time-free zone,” the campaign has gained global attention. Along with CNN and NPR, the BBC also reported on the effort, and such publicity has helped spread the word about the island’s tourist attractions to an audience in all of the world’s time zones. Some cynics speculate that such free publicity is the real aim of the “killing time” campaign, although Hveding hasn’t said so.

The news reports do not indicate much in the way of religious activity on Sommarøy, much less the notion that anyone observes the Bible Sabbath there. But for those wondering, it would be best to calculate the seventh day of the week regardless of sunrise and sunset, and observe it beginning at an appropriate hour, such as 6:00pm, the night before. In the Hebrew calendar, a new day begins at sunset.


Time on Your Side?

God’s Word, the Bible, has a lot to say about time. It is, as Pastor Doug Batchelor points out in this study “The Stuff That Life Is Made of.” Men and women have made and lost millions of dollars, only to regain their fortunes. But time, once spent—or misspent—is gone forever. That’s one reason why the apostle Paul admonished the believers at Ephesus to “walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15, 16).

The first speaker of Amazing Facts, Joe Crews, gained some insight into the value of time once while waiting for his shoes to be repaired. His conclusion was that “our time is valuable, but it is only valuable in proportion to the eternal benefits we derive from the money we receive in exchange for our time.”

Not long ago, Pastor Doug shared some observations about the value of time in a Sabbath school class and they were recorded for you to hear. The study is based on the book of Ecclesiastes, which says, “I said in my heart, ‘God shall judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work’” (Ecclesiastes 3:17).

Until Christ’s return, when there will be no sunset or dawning—we’ll live in 24-hour daylight for eternity, as Sommarøy does for 69 days each year—it’s important to make the most of our time. May God help each of us to do just that!

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