The Greeks – the same folks who gave us four ways to say love – have two words that describe time. When the word chronos is used it speaks of time that can be measured by clocks in seconds, minutes and hours and by calendars in days, weeks, months and years. Chronos represents a succession of moments – each one building on the last and pointing to the next – and it’s the basis for our word chronology. When the second word – kairos – is used, time is understood as opportunity and, more specifically, it generally indicates the right or opportune time for something to be done. How do we see this new year that we’ve just entered into? Is 2017 merely another step in the succession of moments that we call time or is it a time of opportunity – the right moment for something to be done?
Back in 1985 a group of South African Christians who were concerned with the effects apartheid was having on the people of their nation created a manifesto they named The Kairos Document. The opening words of the first chapter make it clear why this name was chosen.
The time has come. The moment of truth has arrived. South Africa has been plunged into a crisis that is shaking the foundations and there is every indication that the crisis has only just begun and that it will deepen and become even more threatening in the months to come. It is the KAIROS or moment of truth not only for apartheid but also for the Church.
I think 2017 “is the Kairos…for the Church” today. It’s the opportune time, the right moment for us to become the countercultural movement we were created to be. In an interview with PBS NEWSHOUR last May, the Most Reverend Michael Curry – the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church – did a great job of capturing what this means. He spoke of Jesus’ message as one characterized by love of God and love of neighbor and he called this “a game-changer.” He envisions the Episcopal Church’s role as being “instruments of God’s work of reconciliation in this world.” I think this is a role that extends beyond denominational boundaries to the Church as a whole. According to the Most Reverend Curry, this is the remedy for “the various forms and ways we’re divided…whether it is racial or socioeconomic or political or religious or tribal or national or on and on and on.” We are called to inspire “the world to stop living a nightmare and start living something closer to God’s dream.” He challenged all Christians to just act like Christians – to live our “daily lives as reflections of the way Jesus of Nazareth lived his, loving in the same way that Jesus did and does, giving in the same way, forgiving, doing justice, caring, living compassionate lives.” Imagine what would happen if the Church united behind such a movement. How would it change our political situation? How would it change our culture? How would it change the way we relate to one another?
As we move into this new year, let’s be looking for kairos moments and let us be prepared to minister to our sisters and brothers who need to escape the nightmare and experience God’s dream of an abundant life.
God of steadfast love, help us reflect and share the goodness you have shared with us. Make us instruments of justice for rich and poor alike and help us to build bridges of trust and friendship in a world that is divided in so many ways. Amen.
Mark is a commissioned minster in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and a student at Central Baptist Theological Seminary. He is currently serving as a ministry intern at Saint Andrew. Mark can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.