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The four minute rule

I knew that bells rang in parliament to warn members outside the chamber that a vote was about to take place, but I never realised why the members were given four minutes to get inside the chamber before the doors were closed and locked. My son returned recently from a school field trip to Canberra with the information that the four minute rule was not chosen at random, but deliberately. One of the most elderly members was asked to walk from the farthest part of the parliament precinct, and the journey was clocked at three minutes and forty-five seconds. Another fifteen seconds was added to be safe, and to add mercy to patience and fair play.

When Noah rang the warning bells in the early stages of ark construction, God waited patiently, says the Book, for people to realise what was going on and just what was at stake. A whole world was not right with God, and legislation had been passed to deal with it. Yet not wishing for any member of this earth’s community to be locked outside the doors and to forfeit the grace that could be theirs, God waited until Noah had banged in the final nail before enacting the legislation. And then the bells stopped ringing. And then the door was closed and locked and sealed. And then the rain fell and the waters rose. And then those who had taken their seats on the inside breathed a sigh of relief. And then those on the outside wished that they hadn’t dawdled.

DM 22nd October 2013

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