Occasionally I conduct a live BBC Radio Devon service on Sunday mornings and recently did one where I spoke about ‘time’ in the context of Pentecost, looking at the significant difference between ‘chronos’ time and ‘kairos’ time. A few people have asked for my notes, so here they are.
“We’re not at Pentecost yet as far as the calendar goes, but this morning I want to give us a foretaste, that reminds us of God’s right time.
“Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2 And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. 3 Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. 4 And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” 5 And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” 7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. 8 And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.”
I took this picture at a YWAM training base in the UK whilst teaching on the School of Biblical Studies
I have been struck at the incidental comment in the first verse of our reading, that Peter and John were going to the Temple “at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.” Blink and that seeming insignificant detail would be lost. This is a very deliberate inclusion by the author. The hour of prayer was the ninth hour, that is 3pm in our currency.
The first century Jerusalem Temple had different prayer times:
The apocalyptic imagination Eugene Peterson talks of gives us a sense of ‘deep time’ – a sense of ‘ages’ that transcends the compulsion of time-management experts. But the working environment of pastors erodes patience and rewards impatience. People are uncomfortable with mystery (God) and mess (themselves). They avoid both mystery and mess by devising programs and hiring pastors to manage them. A program provides a defined structure with an achievable goal. Mystery and mess are eliminated at a stroke. This is appealing. In the midst of the mysteries of grace and the complexities of human sin, it is nice to have something that you can evaluate every month or so and find out where you stand. We don’t have to deal with ourselves or with God, but can use the vocabulary of religion and work in an environment that acknowledges God, and so be assured we are doing something significant…
…The secular mind is terrorized by mysteries. Thus it makes lists, labels people, assigns roles, and solves problems. But a solved life is a reduced life. These tightly buttoned-up people never take great faith risks or make convincing love talk. They deny or ignore the mysteries and diminish human existence to what can be managed, controlled and fixed. We live in a cult of experts who explain and solve. The vast technological apparatus around us gives us the impression that there is a tool for everything if only we can afford it. Pastors cast in the role of spiritual technologists are hard put to keep that role from absorbing everything else, since there are so many things that need to be and can, in fact, be fixed.
Eugene Peterson in The Contemplative Pastor
If you’re busy and you know it clap your hands….Now get back to work you slacker!
We are all suffering from the disease – the dis-ease – of of what someone has called “hurry sickness.” We glory in telling others how busy we are, we justify our Sabbaths and relaxation with movement and activity just so whoever may be spying on us can be reassured that even when we “rest” we do not slack off!
Hurry sickness is a perverse god of the modern age. It demands and promises more and more whilst fulfilling and satisfying less and less. Dude, get over yourself, how important do you really think you are to the turning of this world? In order to prove ourselves to others (and to ourselves), we work through our coffee breaks often, take shorter lunch breaks – food is for losers; time is money – and slowly squeeze play and contemplation from our lives. After all, what consumer driven society such as the Western world wants people to stop and think! Continue reading