Bible Studies for Life Lesson for January 10- Wrestling with Time
December 31 2009 by John Pond, Director of Missions, West Chowan Baptist Association

Focal Passage: Ecclesiastes 3:1-14

Everything has its moment (its hour); a rhythm and significance to the beginning and end of all occurrences. Shakespeare writes, “There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries.”

I recall the fascination I experienced in Greek class when introduced to the concepts of kairos and chronos when describing time. Kairos can be understood as qualitative or meaningful time, and chronos (like chronology) as quantitative or measured time. During our time in eastern Africa we learned how to distinguish between these two Greek terms. Whereas in the west we define our activities according to our daily planners measured in terms of minutes, hours and days, etc. Africans measure in terms of events, rightness of the moment and its appropriateness for the community. 

African theologian and philosopher, John Mbiti observes, “time is simply a composition of events which have occurred, those which are taking place now and those immediately to occur … it is something which falls within the rhythm of natural phenomena.” 

For example, this was especially evident when attending worship in Rwanda and Burundi.

For us as westerners, worship begins at 11 a.m. and ends at noon each Sunday morning. Worship in Africa (and other third world cultures) begins when the Spirit moves and ends when the Spirit leads; that is, when the time is right. Thus, services may last four to five hours.

The Preacher, or Qoheleth states that to everything there is a chronos and a kairos, a fixed moment and a propitious time in a rhythmic chant singing of the spaciousness of life and its wide expanse of experiences and opportunities. Though he seems to imply that humankind has no freedom in the face of this inevitability of “natural phenomena” there is still the reality that “He has made everything beautiful (excellent and appropriate) in its time” (3:11a).

“He has put eternity into man’s mind” (3:11b, RSV). What a thought!

We are all children of time and as such we seem never to have enough of it. Genesis 1:26-27 describes humanity as bearing the image of God and perhaps part of that image is the sense of eternity God has placed within our hearts (and minds). 

O.S. Rankin writes,“It is the desire for another dimension of existence, a dimension of fulfillment and assuagement; a dimension of sufficient for the needs of love and the challenge of truth; sufficient for us to become the selves we were meant to be, for the continuity of dear comradeship, and the prophetic hunger of human hearts. The sense of the eternal is ours from the sources from which our very being is drawn; God has put eternity into man’s mind-and heart.”  
12/31/2009 3:15:00 AM by John Pond, Director of Missions, West Chowan Baptist Association | with 1 comments




Comments
chanah shapira
Your commentary came up on an etymological search for kairos--actually, Kohelet wrote not in Greek about chronos and kairos, but in Hebrew about z'man and et; these terms come out of Biblical conceptions of time, even though they are paralled in pagan Greek culture. Incidentally, I highly recommend reading Heschel's The Sabbath: Its Meaning for the Modern Man on the holiness of time, and time, as defined primarily in Genesis.
1/26/2010 10:56:48 AM