Photos have a way of transporting us in our mind to a different time or place.
I spoke with a family recently as we prepared for a funeral service and they had boxes of hundreds of photographs which they had taken over many years.
These days with mobile phones we are much more trigger happy with our cameras. We take loads of photos knowing that we don’t have to send them away to be printed or developed in the way we did years ago. We scroll through them on our phones deleting them without a thought if they didn’t turn out as we had hoped.
I was sent a great photo recently from my school’s past pupil association. It featured a reunion at 33,000 feet of two girls I was in school with. When I first moved to Dublin over 30 years ago, I shared a flat with Captain Davina Pratt, who became the first European chief pilot at Aer Lingus.
At that point , she was studying electronics before responding to a recruitment advertisement for pilots and her ability obviously shone through. Davina overcame various adversities and went on to play Cricket for the Irish Ladies after a serious injury. She used to pop in occasionally for a cup of tea when in Belfast for training sessions back in the late 1990’s. Beside her in the photograph is Moynagh Sullivan, who is a professor of English in Maynooth University and, this semester, is a visiting professor at the centre for Irish Studies at Boston College, Massachusetts, in the United States. Moynagh was delighted to discover her old school friend was flying the plane to Boston and got the opportunity to visit her for a photo in the cockpit after they landed.
I see these two fabulous ladies doing very responsible things, but I’m transported back in time to our school days. In the small rural boarding school we attended together in the 1980’s in the Irish midlands, there was a great sense of community and family. There are memories of standing at the side of badly drained rugby pitches and hockey pitches cheering each other on, of friendships and fun and life lessons and growing up. As we get older we often idealise those times in our memories. We forget the cold and rather basic facilities. We don’t dwell on the harsher moments and we remember our favourite teachers, our school tours and the bonds we formed.
The Bible uses a couple of words to talk about time. There is ‘Chronos’ which refers to a specific amount of time such as a day or an hour. It’s like ordinary time.
Then there is ‘Kairos’ which refers to a significant time or moment. People might use ‘Kairos’ to describe a significant event like the birth of a child or the death of someone close to them. People also use ‘Kairos’ to describe a spiritual awakening or a conversion. John Wesley memorably described his ‘Kairos’ moment as he attended a meeting at a Moravian chapel in Aldersgate Street in London on 24thMay, 1738. As he heard a preacher expound on the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans, he felt his heart was ‘strangely warmed’ . He describes how he felt he trusted in Christ alone for Salvation, and an assurance was given to him in this experience that Christ had taken away his sins, even his and saved him from the law of sin and death.
This experience prompted him to travel throughout Britain and Ireland and, indeed, America, to preach to people wherever they were at, in fields or in town squares and share what he had discovered.
The season of Advent would be seen as a ‘Kairos’ moment, a time and an opportunity for us to re-evaluate our lives as we prepare for the birth of Jesus at Christmas.
Sometimes, for all sorts of reasons, the spiritual part of our lives has become less important to us . We have possibly stopped attending church as our lives have become so busy. We no longer have structures that compel us to think about that part of our lives, especially if we are materially comfortable. We get absorbed in our careers, our families and moving forwards. It seems counter intuitive to slow down, read, reflect and pray.
Yet, that’s exactly what we invite you to do in the coming weeks in the ‘church without walls’. If you can’t make it in person, why not tune in on the St. Finnian’s YouTube channel to hear our midweek Advent speakers share why faith is important to them? This Thursday, at 7.30pm, the inspirational Melanie Grimsley will share why faith is important to her. Next week at 7.30pm on Thursday it’s Keith Mitchell, from Crown Jesus Ministries and, on Thursday 16th December, it’s Dorothy Callan sharing her experience.
Just like a photo transported me in my mind to happy days and old friends, can this season be a ‘Kairos’ moment in your life? Can you reconnect with a faith you may have lost or abandoned, not deliberately, but just through other priorities taking over?
We’d love to welcome you to our special services either online or in person. We’d love to give you the opportunity in the New Year to explore that faith informally in an online Alpha course, rather than write it off without examining the evidence. It’s possible to do so from so many places in the world from the comfort of your own home.
Let’s light our Advent wreath, sing our Advent hymns and open our hearts for discovering the real reason for the season.
Looking forward to speaking again soon.
Much love to everyone,
Listen to the latest episode of ‘Bitesize Chunks of Faith’