Rev. Stephen Baldwin
OT: Isaiah 40.1-11
NT: 2 Peter 3.8-15a
There are two kinds of time in the New Testament–kairos and chronos.
Chronos is clock time–seconds, minutes, hours, days, years, chronological time. Kairos is God’s time–measured in meaning and significance, not numbers.
Chronos is quantitative. Kairos is qualitative.
Chronos is about minutes. Kairos is about moments.
This week’s devotion, which we studied in the conversation, began by saying, “Waiting is an art…that our impatient age has forgotten.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote those words from prison in 1943, where he was held captive for daring to say that Jesus is Lord, rather than saying with the masses that Hitler was lord. How much more impatient is the world now as compared to 1943? “Waiting is an art that our impatient age has forgotten.”
I imagine Bonhoeffer was talking about chronos and kairos. We are impatient with the minutes, and we are especially impatient with the moments.
He believed that this time of year in particular is our best opportunity to get right with time.
He writes, “Whoever does not know the austere blessedness of waiting–that is, of hopefully doing without–will never experience the blessing of fulfillment.”
Let’s sit with that for a moment. Bonhoeffer defines waiting as “hopefully doing without.” In other words, going without something you would prefer to have, and rather than being hopeless without it, being hopeful it will come one day. Hopefully doing without. That is waiting.
Advent teaches children about hopefully doing without. With Advent calendars. With Advent candles. With the school calendar. With presents under the tree. Waiting for Christmas. Hopefully doing without.
As we grow older, the cycle of waiting grows longer. It’s not just about waiting for Christmas day, a process we’ve been through many years. Instead, it’s about waiting for God to break in this world. It’s about hopefully doing without Jesus right here walking and talking and guiding us.
And somewhere along the way, Advent becomes just as important, if not more so, than Christmas. Because we learn that “whoever does not know the austere blessedness of waiting–that is, of hopefully doing without–will never experience the blessing of fulfillment.”
For the most important things in this life, we must wait. It makes their arrival all the more miraculous. It makes the joy we experience all the more meaningful.
Whether you structure your life around chronos or kairos, minutes or moments, may this season of Advent teach you to hopefully do without.
As 2 Peter says, “The Lord is not slow about his promises. Regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.” Thanks be to God for stillness and slowness, for minutes and moments, and for the promise of salvation in a world that is waiting. Amen.