“When did God begin?” was the tongue in cheek question blurted out as a challenge to the RE teacher. The boy wore an analog timepiece. The teacher said, “Show me your watch.” The boy put forth his wrist. “Trace the circumference with your finger. It’s a perfect circle. Show me where the circle begins and where it ends.”
An inspired answer! Someone reminded me this week of a sermon I delivered more than 30 years ago in which chronos time (measured in linear terms like the hands of the watch) is surrounded by kairos time (significant events where awareness of the eternal encompassing the temporal, like a circle without beginning or end, breaks in).
Next Sunday’s readings bring us full circle on the lectionary year, using the language of sovereignty (The Festival of Christ the King) to celebrate this all-encompassing mystery of completion in endings and beginnings.
Hence, the dying words of King David point to confidence in a continuity for his realm that rests in the ways of the Holy.
This same confidence is echoed in the psalm celebrating the sovereignty of YHWH
The vision of the Sovereign Christ, the Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End, begins a dream-like journey of Completion (or Fulfilment) for all things narrated by John on the island of Patmos where he is exiled.
Pilate stands as an agent of temporal empire in all its expressions (even today’s!) non-plussed, incomprehensive, yet strangely drawn to tho the figure that stands before him, speaking the language of kairos of which he alone is Sovereign.
This Sunday also marks the change from a year dominated by the necessary pathway of trial and suffering that is part of the disciple’s journey portrayed in Mark’s Gospel. The cycle now takes us to Luke’s Gospel, which during the coming year, will have us exploring the pathway of mature and committed service for the sake of others – a focus on community building that includes but goes beyond the walls of the church to serve the world. The anticipation of Advent and the joy of Christmas will provide the portal through to that path!