Nether Heyford Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul
In ancient Greek, the language of the New Testament, there are several words that we translate as ‘time’. The most common one is chronos, the basis of English words like chronology and chronometer. This refers to sequential time, the seconds, minutes, and hours on our wristwatches. But there is also kairos. This refers to a particular event or opportunity, a moment in time when everything changes, because it is the right time. Kairos moments mark events that make us stop and pause and reconsider our lives. They are often moments when normal, sequential time – chronos – seems to stand still. They may herald an event that disturbs us, that shakes us up, that moves us out of our comfort zone, that takes the loose ends of our life and reconnects them in new and exciting ways. Kairos moments signal opportunities for change and for growth, at an individual level, and at a communal level. They can be prompted by changes in leadership, by a word or message, or by an event.
Perhaps the gradual emergence from lockdown is one of those kairos moments, for individuals, for the Church and for society as a whole. As we look to the next and the new normal, as we reflect on the way things were, we will need courage, resourcefulness and hope to re imagine and create a new and better future. For the Church, the last few months have changed the way we do things, moving services, meetings, and Bible study groups online, ‘visiting’ via telephone and so on. As we gradually reopen our buildings, we will face many challenges. How do we combine an on-line presence with our traditional, physical presence? How do we face our financial worries, both individual and corporate? What does the aftermath of coronavirus mean for our giving, our serving and our church buildings?
But as a nation, as a wider society, we face similar challenging questions. In a recent bulletin to parish clergy, the Bishop of Peterborough contrasts the changing messages from the government, from a concern for peoples’ health to a concern for the economic health of the nation. He suggests that we need to seek a middle ground between ‘health and safety at all costs’ and ‘maximum productivity and wealth creation’, that we seek ‘the common good’, the ‘just and caring society’. “We could,” he writes. “be using this horrid crisis to be dreaming and planning a better future, rather than either hiding in our caves and refusing to come out, or rushing headlong back to the madcap past from which we have come”.
As we move towards a post-pandemic world, I pray that we might seize the opportunities offered by this kairos moment – as individuals, communities and churches – to seek that middle ground, to re-imagine and create a better, fairer, safer future where all can flourish. I wonder what that might look like for our homes, our workplaces, our villages, our nation and our world?
With every prayer and blessing in these uncertain times,
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