Nov. 22: An unexpected hour
Welcome to Goshen College’s online devotionals for the 2010 Advent season! Our theme this year, taken from Mennonite Church USA worship resources, is “An Unexpected Hour.” Every Monday an author will introduce the sub-theme, whereas the following weekdays an author will reflect on a specific Scripture passage from the lectionary.
I am sure you have heard about the two kinds of “time” – chronos and kairos. An hour of chronos is a linear 60 minutes, but who really knows how long an hour of kairos time is? I would like to pose a third kind of time – child-time. Recently our four-year-old son came down with pneumonia. That did not fit too well with my work schedule nor my wife’s, who is also a congregational pastor. On one particular day I had meetings and she was to assist in leading a funeral. Child-time demanded a new outlook and response to our pre-planned activities. Child-time has also provided those wonderful opportunities of cleaning up after one of our kids when in the middle of the night they came to our bed and were ill.
Advent 2010 invites us to pause, to receive a different awareness of time – an invitation to do less rather than more. Each week’s theme contrasts our understandings of time with the imaginative ways God is remaking the world – through the joyful restoration of relationships among all God has made: humans and other creatures and the earth under our feet. When we stop long enough to notice what’s going on, God’s generosity and creativity surprises us, and as we catch the vision, we can’t help but respond.
The theme for Advent 1 is “Keep awake.” We are to keep awake for the anticipated intervention of God’s timing, yet not fully knowing when and how this will occur. Child-time has us live life in the unexpected, yet in a very expectant way. It has caused us to wake up in the middle of many nights, but it also calls us to keep awake to the wonderful realities and blessings of a child experiencing life.
I’ll confess, staying home with my son that “pneumonia morning” brought me joy when after he “scolded me” for some reason and placed his hands on his waist, his pajamas bottoms fell down since he had just stretched out the elastic band. We both looked at each other and began to laugh. Being awake in the midst of child-time can certainly have its “chuckle-ous” moments!
O God, help us to keep awake and anticipate the blessings of the unexpected hour.