Time, Sin, Archery and 2017

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. What gain have the workers from their toil? - Ecclesiastes 3

When I read this scripture, I am reminded once again of the difference in the way we talk about time. Perhaps you have heard of two types of time: Kronos and Kairos.

Kronos is sequential time -- the time you can tell on your watch or when reading a clock. It is the hour and minute of the moment. (As an interesting side-note, Kronos was the Greek God who ate all of his children.)

Kairos is season time -- this comes from the idea in archery of knowing just that right moment to release the arrow.

Perhaps it is worth pondering that the word “sin”, like the word Kairos, also has roots in archery. Whereas Kairos means the right time to release the arrow, sin means to miss the mark on the target.

Christianity understands that we are not great at always hitting the mark. No matter how much we try, we are just not going to be able to hit the mark every time. Rather than trying to teach you how to be a better archer or a better person (like the self-help industry is focused on), Christianity teaches us how to accept the reality that we are just not going to hit the mark very much at all. In fact, there may be times we miss the mark so badly that we do harm to ourselves or others.

If I have learned anything from the year 2016, it is that we have seen what it looks like to have a season of all of us missing the mark with little grace or forgiveness from others. 

My prayer for 2017 is not that we would be better at "hitting the mark" - we are all human and are all going to mess up. It is my prayer that we might have a season that extends the grace and forgiveness that has been absent.

May the Kronos of 2017 include Kairos of us sharing grace and forgiveness.