Radical Presence: Kairos - moment of truth
Jesus went into Galilee and proclaimed the gospel of God. He said, “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the gospel!” Mark 1:14b-15 from the New English Translation NET Bible® ©1996-2017 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.
Now because we are fellow workers, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says, “I heard you at the acceptable time, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” Look, now is the acceptable time; look, now is the day of salvation! 2 Corinthians 6:1-2 from the New English Translation NET Bible® ©1996-2017 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.
Times flies, or 'tempus fugit' as my Gran used to say. Sometimes, though, time can really drag. In the Greek of the time of Jesus, this sort of time was ‘chronos’. Time you can measure and feel passing.
But there’s another type of time in the New Testament: kairos. Kairos time is time that is of it’s moment. A decision point. The right time for something. A now moment. Maybe even a wow moment. Those two short passages above are kairos, not chronos. Is it too much to say that now, as we emerge from Covid (but with its threat is still horribly real) is a kairos moment? With the urgency of climate change screaming at us, is now a kairos moment?
That’s the wondering for this latest, much delayed Radical Presence theme.
And even if we can maybe agree that this is, indeed, a kairos time, that doesn't mean we can agree on what way to turn in this moment of decision!
The authors that we are encouraged to explore this time all agree that this is a kairos, decision making, moment of possibility. But they all have a different slant:
Greg Smith explores the idea that the pandemic is less of an existential risk to all of humanity (though tell that to those going through the hell of New Delhi just now), and more a moment where, having been forced to rest, we might see the world and our futures differently. An opportunity to pause and choose something different from the past.
Martin Parker, though, fears we might have already lost the chance of that ‘sabbath rest’ moment that Smith talks about. Writing in the time when things opened up again, before the second lockdown that we’re only now emerging from, he is noticing how quickly everything just went ‘back to normal’. Are we just pre-programmed to imagine our futures based on our past? Is time too ‘sticky’. Are we letting chronos determine our kairos? He encourages those of us who long for change to start painting pictures of what the future might be. If folks can’t imagine it, then it’s little wonder that they won’t choose it, even if they feel the same sense of kairos.
In this short video, Naomi Klein explores how we might react, and explains her hypothesis that there are, historically, two options that we can take in this moment of crisis: move to a place where there is more exploitation, or radically change to build something better for all.
What do we think about these views?
Does this feel like a kairos moment for you? Or are you simply longing for chronos to get a move on so you can get back to the way things were?
If we do want a different, better, cleaner, greener future, what do you think of the idea that we have help people imagine it if we’re all to be brave enough to make a choice away from what we know and is safe?
Does any of this sound just a little bit like Jesus painting pictures of the kingdom of God?!
To explore all of this a bit more, and with more questions to ponder and a liturgy you could use for prayer and worship around these things, head over to the Radical Presence page for this session.
Next time the theme is ‘flesh’, exploring our rootedness in creation and our need for each other.