One thing that was hard to adjust to when my family and I moved from Colorado to Southern California… the lack of any rhythm in life. We were used to something called, “seasons” where life would slow down during the colder months. When the weather is nice for most of the year, it’s really hard to create a sense of margin where you can catch your breath. But just as important, is how difficult it is to gain a sense of time that is holy.
The first thing that God declares to be holy in Genesis 2 is time. After His work of creation for six days, He sets aside the next and declares it to be holy or set apart for a special purpose – to mean something special and be something special. For most of us time does not feel holy. Just the opposite.. it feels like something to be used or spent to accomplish something else. In other words, time doesn’t feel holy. It feels more like a treadmill where I’m running to get LIFE accomplished!
Why is this so important? The church in history figured out something very important… there is a rhythm to life and the calendar year. They picked this up from the Hebrew understanding of a sacred (meaning holy) week, and a sacred year. All Christians observe (or try to observe) the rhythm of the week while both Catholics and later Anglicans, still observe the rhythm of the calendar year as expressed in their liturgy.
Robert Webber wrote in Ancient Future Faith,
“From a Christian point of view, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ are at the center of time, for from Christ we look backward toward creation, the Fall, the Covenants, and God’s working in history to bring redemption” (p.112)
This idea of the importance of time was seen in the distinction between two Greek words – chronos, which stood for chronological time and kairos, which was not sequential time but quality time. Kairos probably is best described as a moment in time or a period in time that drips with God’s grace. To celebrate Easter on the day, for sure, is chronos but it is also kairos as we stand in awe of what God has done but also look forward with great anticipation to what He will do.
Easter, then, is a particular time in the rhythm of the year when we intentionally pause to look back but also to look forward. There is a preparation time (Lent) of the heart so that when the day comes, it’s not just a celebration for what Christ has done but also what He will do. Resurrection then is for Christians holy time when we both look back at grace and look forward to grace. In many ways, Easter is the center of the year and unlike Christmas, it calls us to enter into the drama of the Passion week. We are not just bystanders who celebrate the day. We are participants as we lament on Friday with the great, but subdued hope that Sunday is coming. The wild thing is that alongside the church worldwide, we “spend time” doing this every year and it’s, for the most part, non-productive time.
This Easter, it’s not just chronos. It’s time well spent that is full of God’s grace, not only for what He’s done in the past for we who trust in Jesus’ death on the cross in our place. It also is dripping with grace because we, among all people, have a great sense of hope that God is not done with us yet and we are moving toward a future time that will be literally glorious!