For everything there is a season,
and a time for every matter under heaven:
I’m sure a lot of you have heard this scripture before.
Since it was made more famous by the band “the Byrds” most of us can recite this scripture from memory without knowing that we knew:
(sing it with me)
To everything turn turn turn
There is season turn turn turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven
(If it’s not ringing a bell yet, listen here.)
They actually sang eight verses from Ecclesiastes 3, though not quite as written.
Since these lyrics DO come from scripture, here they are, from the Bible, and not the Byrds:
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.
Lovely poetry isn’t it?
No wonder the Byrds used it.
In early Greek translations of this originally Hebrew text, there are two different words used for time and season: chronos and kairos.
Chronos is where we get our words for chronological and chronology and it means actual literal time. It’s quantitative.
(“525600 minutes to measure a year” for example)
(and you’re welcome for that song now also being in your head)
Kairos, in contrast is qualitative. It’s about time, yes, but measures moments instead of minutes. This kind of time is used for those moments when everything is just as it should be, even if it’s not perfect, it feels right, holy even. Kairos is sometimes referred to as God’s timing. I once heard someone say that kairos is those times no matter how fleeting, that make you realize there isn’t one thing you’d change in the moment.
So, going to back Ecclesiastes 3 verse 1, both words are used, so it reads:
for every thing there is a chronos, and a kairos for every matter under heaven.
I know I’m geeking out a bit but this is so cool right?
Yes, there are physical, actual times where things that are horrible and wonderful happen.
We count them by days and hours and dates that we remember and honor and even celebrate.
Like birthdays and good and bad anniversaries.
But there are kairos moments in all of those chronos moments too.
And we see this in verses 2-8, which in the text only uses the word kairos.
There is going to be good stuff and bad stuff in our lives, it’s gonna happen.
But there are moments of holiness in all of it.
Because God is in all of it.
Don’t mishear me – God isn’t orchestrating good and bad, but God is IN good and bad.
So when you are laughing and everything feels sparkly and golden for just that one moment – that’s kairos.
And when you are full on grieving, I mean heave crying lying on the floor grieving – that is kairos too.
Kairos doesn’t mean happy.
It doesn’t mean perfect.
It doesn’t even mean you love what is happening,
it simply means a recognition that no matter WHAT is happening and no matter how you feel, God is present in it with you, and somehow, even the worst moments can be holy moments.
It means God has broken in to the chronos a bit more clearly at that moment.
So then I can have a kairos moment dancing around the living room with my daughter,
and I can have another one at the doctor’s office as they tell me news I wasn’t hoping to hear.
Somehow, for me, this changes everything.
It changes how I see and feel and experience both good and bad moments.
It opens my eyes and heart to the places where God is found in them.
And they turn from just minutes ticking by,
to moments of profound holiness,
where the passing of time is not even felt.
So open your eyes this week uplifters, for those kairos moments breaking into the monotony of our chronos lives.
It’s happening right now.
There is a time for everything, and God is in it all.