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Chronos & Kairos in the Time of COVID-19

“They set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.” – Matthew 2:9

In conversation with Bishop Smith, the Bishop of Southern Ohio, we have decided to postpone the Celebration of New Ministry service planned for January 6.

Although I am sad not to have this special service on the Feast of the Epiphany, I also believe this is the right decision.

With rising case numbers and increasing COVID-19 infections and exposures in Ohio, we won’t be able to celebrate in the way we desire. I have family and friends who want to be present and can’t be with us, and many of you have expressed your concerns about how to have the celebration we all hope for safely at this moment.

The Bishop and I are already beginning conversations about finding the right day in the spring or summer to celebrate this new season of ministry together. My hope is to celebrate well, not only in worship but also with a party with food and drink and as many people as we can gather in one place (who knows, maybe even without masks!).

I have been reflecting on the journey the magi took, following a star, to an unknown land where they discover God incarnate. Tradition tells us that the magi arrived not at the moment of Christ’s birth, but later after the shepherds and angels had left, maybe even a year or two later by some accounts.

For me, this is a reminder that sometimes the journey is as important as the destination. We are being prepared as we journey together, for God to be revealed in some new way and to discover a new vision for our future.

Theologians talk about two kinds of time, chronos and kairos. Henri Nouwen writes:

“Time has to be converted, then, from chronos, mere chronological time, to

kairos, a New Testament Greek word that has to do with opportunity, with

moments that seem ripe for their intended purpose.

Then, even while life continues to seem harried, while it continues to have

hard moments, we say, ‘Something good is happening amid all this.’ We get

glimpses of how God might be working out his purposes in our days. Time

becomes not just something to get through or manipulate or manage, but

the arena of God’s work with us.

Whatever happens— good things or bad, pleasant or problematic—we look

and ask, 'What might God be doing here?' We see the events of the day as

continuing occasions to change the heart. Time points to Another and

begins to speak to us of God.”

We are part of God’s unfolding story. In this moment, as we anticipate the arrival of the wise ones who are seeking the Christ Child, we are on our own journey as a congregation, learning how to walk together and to see where God is leading us. What is the star in the sky that will guide us on our journey? What are the signs of God made manifest in our community? Even in the midst of troubling times, how will we celebrate with joy this new life that is offered to us?

I invite you to continue to pray with me about these questions throughout the Epiphany season. We will offer opportunities to gather and grow as we continue our journey together. And when the time is right, we will celebrate with great joy!

Wishing you health and blessings as we prepare to enter this Epiphany season!

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