One of the greatest mysteries of physics is time. Pages and pages of learned articles have been written in an effort to explain what it is, why it exists at all and why we experience it as going in a particular ‘direction’.
For Christians time exists in one of two forms. The most common form is chronos, a Greek word which means ‘measurable time’. Chronos is what helps us to make sense of what is the past, what is the present and what is the future. It’s the concept we use to mark the passing of the hours, days, months and years of our lives and the lives of our families and friends. Chronos is one of the tools historians use to describe the significant events and movements in the story of humanity and before.
In the New Testament, however, another term for time appears – kairos. Kairos is another Greek word which means ‘the right time’ or ‘the fulness of time’. It’s a word that describes the quality of time rather than a quantity of time. Kairos is not linear and the past, the present and the future exist simultaneously. It’s the word that Jesus often uses to describe God’s reign of justice and peace.
We can experience kairos in the midst of chronos. Think of an experience where you spent hours in the presence of someone or in the midst of an activity only to realize that ‘time flew by’. This is kairos. Think of a decision you made which might not have made sense to anyone with a practical frame of mind, but one which you believed was the right one to make at that moment in your life. That’s an experience of kairos.
Advent, the season when we are focused on the coming of Christ into the world, God’s kairos breaking into our chronos, is a perfect time to take a moment to consider how we are using the chronos of our lives to further the kairos of God’s purposes. As disciples of Jesus, we are called to be good stewards of all the resources God has entrusted to us. One resource that we all have, the most precious non-renewable resource we have, is the chronos of our lives.
When David Johnston was Governor General of Canada, he made encouraging Canadians to volunteer one of his top priorities. He knew what we all know: How we spend the chronos of our lives can make a difference to others, to our communities and, dare I say, even to our own selves.
This Advent I invite you to consider how you are dedicating the chronos of your life to further God’s kairos. Perhaps you are already volunteering your time to the church and other community organizations. Perhaps you are supporting friends and family members who are in need of an extra set of hands, a set of listening ears, a caring heart.
But perhaps you have discovered a kairos - shaped hole in the chronos of your daily life. In Holy Trinity Cathedral’s network of service, worship, evangelism, education and pastoral care, there are many opportunities for your time to be used well. God calls us all to find ways for our passion to be put to use in God’s mission. All it takes is time.
Vicar of Holy Trinity Cathedral