Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Advent 18 : Repentance, And Failure To Repent
Heaven – the realm of God’s kingdom rule – is closer to earth than we think. It is right there, seeping in. Repentance is the means by which heaven crosses the thin, permeable membrane of space and time: the means by which foretastes of the future – God’s ultimate future – break-into the present. Because God’s kingdom is right there...but it is heading in a different direction, towards another horizon, another conclusion; and so we need to turn round to see the world from the perspective of God’s kingdom.
There are times – moments, events; the Greek word for such time is ‘kairos’ – that interrupt and suspend ordinary time – seconds, minutes, hours, days; the Greek word for such time is ‘chronos’. These moments can be positive or negative, large or small. They can last for half a heartbeat (a passing stranger makes you smile), or for months (grief after significant loss). The world carries on about its business around us, but we find ourselves stuck in a moment...and in that moment, the world of ‘chronos’ time and space can take one of two paths.
These times are opportunities to repent and see God’s kingdom break-in. Salvation, healing, forgiveness, joy, peace – things that will define all experience of life beyond the Great Day of Jesus’ return, break-into the present, as signposts pointing to that future Day.
Or we can take a deep breath and carry on along the same trajectory we were travelling in, and miss out on partnering in God’s rule. God’s future will continue to break-in, but at another moment, delayed, perhaps through someone else.
And though this may seem counter-intuitive, God gives us the big ‘kairos’ moments – the ones even one so blind as me cannot miss – in order to train us to see the small ‘kairos’ opportunities, and step into God’s future. Because our days are as filled with ‘kairos’ moments as they are with the air we breathe; and the small moments are more significant than the big ones.
I was in the city centre, Christmas shopping, and I walked past a Big Issue vendor. And I chose not to stop – not that I wouldn’t buy a copy, but I’d do it later, once I’d actually got some shopping done. And God, speaking through my conscience, said, “Turn around!” But I kept going, arguing with the voice in my head: later, not now. The further away I got, the harder it was to turn around, and in fact I never did. I carried on with my agenda, and bought a copy from another vendor later. And we spoke, and I know he was blessed, but I also know that God wanted to break in through me earlier in the day, and, by my own choice, I missed out on being part of what he wanted to do.
The moment was small, and easy to dismiss. What will it take (and do I really want to resist God that far)?
Lord Jesus, whose days were one moment of repentance after another, so that you remained always in the Father’s will, teach me to live such a life. Amen.