Making room for time? I know — I can hear what you are thinking. For some of us, all we’ve had is time on our hands. We’ve been sheltering at home, many of us out of work, practicing safe physical distancing, wearing masks, and keeping away from each other. My 15-year-old daughter rearranged her bedroom furniture twice in the last three months. For many, time seems to creep as we wait for the wave of the pandemic to recede.
For those on the frontlines — nurses, doctors, healthcare workers, firefighters, EMTs, grocery staff and more — it has felt like we never had enough time. We’ve all worked long hours, often double shifts, as we scrambled to heal and protect people from the coronavirus.
We know older adults are at risk because of COVID-19. Here at Pilgrim Manor, we’ve spent many long hours changing how we operated prior to the pandemic. And these changes continue, on top of all the other items we already considered top priority to care for residents.
We wish we had more time with so many rapid changes to keep residents safe.
Waiting. That’s what the pandemic is. We wait to find out the latest trends in the coronavirus. Is the amount of COVID-19 cases decreasing? Increasing? When can we stop wearing masks? When can we see family? When can we safely go to restaurants? We wait to hear that family and friends are well, not sick and dying. Waiting.
So why do we need to make room for time? We’ve been more conscious of time this spring. Minutes blinking by. Hours crawling by. Days flying by. Weeks and months that look and feel different from any other time in our life. Most of our focus on time is awareness of it passing.
What time is it? In Greek, time is chronos, referring to chronological and sequential aspect of time. Time as a quantity. We’ve had enough of that kind of time.
I think we need to make room for a different kind of time. There’s also another Greek word for time — kairos. Kairos has a qualitative aspect. Kairos time is an opportune moment — or the right time. In the New Testament, kairos means the appointed time in the purposes of God. Kairos time is the time when God acts. What if this moment isn’t only a horrible time surrounded by the coronavirus pandemic and racism and racial violence but an opportune time for God to act?
At the beginning of his ministry, “Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. ‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’” (Mark 1:15) Jesus uses the word kairos. And then we see God in Jesus Christ, acting in powerful ways. With just a simple invitation to “follow me,” Jesus created a following. First his disciples followed, but then hundreds more followed him. Why? Because they could sense something powerful in him.
Not only were Jesus’ words true and powerful, so were his actions. People were healed from debilitating diseases. People arose from the dead. Jesus fed 5000 people with only five fish and two loaves of bread. His disciples looked around them and could see the kingdom of God coming to light through Jesus Christ.
It was the right time — kairos time. They saw walls built to divide people crumble in the face of Jesus’ love. Racial walls that separated Jews and Gentiles. They saw women treated with respect, rather than as possessions.
The Right Time
It was the right time — kairos time. But that doesn’t mean it was an easy time. The Roman Empire had rolled over Palestine, and the Jews had lost their freedom and country, being occupied by a ruthless police force of the Roman emperor. But God almost always acts when times are darkest. Into the darkness of occupation, Jesus announces the good news that the kingdom of God had come.
It reminds me of Jesus’ resurrection. The disciples are in the midst of despair, having just watched the death of their hope as Jesus was crucified. John writes: “While it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance (John 20:1). While it was still dark. God’s favorite place to act is wherever and whenever there is darkness.
Into the Darkness
We are living through dark and difficult times. Would it be surprising that God chooses to act now? Although we have been physically disconnected through sheltering in place and social distancing, there has also been a new recognition that we are united on a deeper, spiritual level. In our community, staff members have worked harder as we are united in our passion to keep our residents safe. This is the right time — kairos time — where God acts to usher in the kingdom of God.
I mourn the deaths of black people to police brutality. I mourn the death of George Floyd. I’m angry that racism continues to thrive and that minorities bear the brunt of injustice. But I am so glad that people are rising up, that protests have swept the world to end racism and police brutality.
To me, it feels like God’s spirit of truth and justice is lighting a fire in so many people. God is acting to bring the kingdom of God closer, working in us and through us. It’s the right time. It’s kairos time. May God’s light burn through our present darkness. May we all catch fire with God’s spirit of healing, wholeness, truth and justice. Let’s make room for kairos time.