It is often the first question I ask in the morning (as in “Did I REALLY oversleep again?”) and it is almost always the last question I ask before turning out the light at night. It is one of those fundamental questions of human existence that lives within our souls, and it changes as we move through life. Some seasons are frought with a busyness that ties every moment of every day to the reminder beep on the phone. Other seasons have more space and fewer demands – and a different relationship to time.
Life in the church is all tied up with time. The liturgical seasons connect us to the biblical story year after year. Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, Ordinary Time….. Each season “feels” different from the others. What time is it? It’s Easter…or Christmas…or Lent…or that long season of just plain “ordinary time”.
In the church, though, time is more than chronology. There is also “kairos” – that time that belongs to God and is intrinsically holy. It’s the moment when a baby is born, or an old person passes from this life to the next. We know “kairos” time on Easter morning when the congregation sings out the first verse of “Christ The Lord Is Risen Today”. We know it in that moment before a Board meeting at church when the whole room is silent – waiting for the words of the prayer to begin. “Kairos” time is pregnant and filled with God’s possibilities. It focuses us toward a future that belongs to God and that we cannot yet see. And it is with us every time we gather.
And so – for us in the church – there is always this question of “God’s time”. Is this the time for prophetic action in response to the injustices of the world? Is it the time to quietly topamax to buy online listen to the sorrows of the person who sits next to us in the pew every Sunday? Is this a time for contemplative prayer….or is it a time to shout our faith from the rooftops? Is it the time to sit and study the scriptures, or is it time to get busy and offer some hospitality? Is it the time for forgiveness and reconciliation? Is it the time to be doing all of this…all at once? What time IS it?
Every generation in the church needs to wrestle with these questions – always in relationship to their particular time and place. Racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, poverty, access to the things that make for fullness of life…. These fears are made manifest in different faces and forms in different historical moments. The specifics change as fast as the nightly news. These days even faster!
And so it is in the church. The challenges often seem overwhelming. But the most basic questions haven’t changed – including “What time is it?”. What will we do with the time that we have been given? Will we let it slip through our fingers like the sands of an hourglass – counting out our chronological time in hours and days and months and years, focused on “the way things used to be”? Or will we seek to claim this time as God’s holy time, doing our best to listen deeply and to follow Jesus boldly into God’s future? In truth, most of us will do a bit of both, but I believe that the world (and the church) will be better off if we are able to live into “kairos” time more intentionally. “What time is it?” It’s God’s time!
Young Clergy Advocate in Iowa Conference