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Chronos, Kairos and Agrarian Parables

That's a nice theologically erudite sounding title for some waffle on my recent sermon series!

In a few lines of text, the gospel writers give us a story that represents several months or years in the lives of the (fictitious) characters and told by Jesus to crowds whose response is unknown.  As I have worked with these stories, read what the clever Biblical scholars have said and hopefully allowed God a look in too, the 'time' factor in all of them has really struck me. 

In each story there is a chronos element - usually a long one - between planting and harvest (or lack thereof).  This seems to speak to me, and to us, about the fact that there are no quick answers, that everything does take time (perhaps even has a natural lifespan?).  To churches who look for 'results' from their programmes and/or ministers is a reminder that it won't be instant - indeed the fig tree suggests that we could expect three years of nothing before any fruit is borne (discuss!).  In 2006 when instant everything is allegedly the norm, it is good to be reminded of the need for long slogs, not recorded in dispatches with no outward "results" before we reach a harvest.

In each story there is a kairos element - a seasonal aspect when 'this is the moment' that the outcome happens.  Harvest or bonfire - it seems to recur through several of the stories but with the wheat and weeds is also the mystery of unknowingness.  Only at the kairos can we be sure what the 'harvest' will be.  Too much energy devoted to weeding out what we perceive as bad and we grub up the good too.  How much time and effort do we put into doctrinal purity and the 'right living' of others when God actually says 'leave it with me'?

I have enjoyed - is that the right word?  - revisiting these parables and have been both challenged and encouraged by them.  The creative tension (apologies to my URC minister-in-training sister who hates that phrase with a vengeance) between the chronos and kairos aspects intrigues me and also grounds my thoughts back into the reality of Dibley.

In our discussions with D+1, I find myself slipping into a judging mentality about what is essential and what is "froth" in an almost 'wheat/weeds' distinction.  Perhaps I/we need to allow the 'weeds' to stay in the garden while we tend the 'wheat'?  Perhaps while there is a distinction to be drawn between important/unimportant I/we need to beware value judgements on other grounds? 

There seems to be an interesting tension between the sower parable, where the weeds choked the plants, and the wheat and weeds, where they were allowed to remain: are there maybe different types of weeds to consider, or am I stretching the analogies too far?  Answers on a post card to the usual address.

After a free Sunday (hurrah!) and One World Week united service, we will move to a series looking at the four women in Matthew's genealogy of Jesus.  What do you know about Tamar, Rahab, Ruth or Mary? I am looking forward to a very different pre-Advent focus as we discover some of the skeletons in Jesus' family tree!  But maybe it's 'time' for a change?!

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