With God, in time and place

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. . .” Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Rev. Dr Katherine Rainger, Senior Chaplain
Rev. Dr Katherine Rainger, Senior Chaplain

Welcome to Term 3. A special welcome to everyone joining the Radford community this term.

Charles Dickens, a master of realistic social critique, provides a meditation on a particular time period. His words remind me of what the holiday time may have been like for people in Australia and further afield, a mixture of “good times” and “hard times.” Each of our experiences is unique and also interconnected.

Time is a common theme in the stories we watch and read. I recently watched Belgravia and I love the feeling of being transported to another time and place that period dramas provide.

The film About Time asks the question “what would we do if we could relive certain moments in time?” Dawn French’s recent series The Trouble with Maggie Cole also offers a very real and humorous exploration of that question.

In the original language of the New Testament section of the Bible, two ancient Greek words that are used for the English word time: chronos and kairos.

Chronos refers to the “clock time” (where we get the word chronology from). It can be measured in seconds, minutes, hours, years.

Kairos is qualitative in nature. It is measured in moments and experiences, rather than seconds. Kairos time is also marked by a sense of it being the “right time” for something to occur.

A kairos moment cannot be planned. We recognise “kairos moments” by the sense of grace, excitement and joy that accompanies them.

When Jesus begins his ministry, he proclaims “The time is fulfilled (kairos) the Kingdom of God has come near; change your hearts and believe in the good news” (Mark 1:15). God’s action in entering the world in Jesus is a “kairos moment” for the entire creation. The good news has been embodied and the invitation to participate is extended to everyone.

As we begin another term, a sense of chronos is unavoidable, and there can be a gift in that. There is a rhythm to the structure of hours and days. One of our challenges is to build in a balance between work, rest and play in the way that we use our time.

We can also pay attention to “kairos moments” when grace and gratitude is experienced in unexpected and unplanned ways.

Australians recently celebrated NAIDOC Week, a time in the national calendar to celebrate First Nations cultures and achievements. A profound conversation on time and place between Aboriginal Christian leaders Brooke Prentis (CEO of Common Grace) and Aunty Rev. Dr Denise Champion can be heard here.

Blessings for the chronos and kairos of the week ahead,
Rev. Katherine

Lead image artwork: Four Rivers of Eden by Hannah Garrity inspired by Genesis 2: 4b-15. Hannah’s artist statement contains a poignant reflection on time and place.