A phrase I often hear in the days leading up to Christmas, whether spoken with excitement weariness, is ‘It’s that time of year again.’
Time is a fascinating subject and it’s something of which we are all very aware. Usually when we talk about time we are referring to chronology which is the business of our watches and clocks, diaries and calendars. Chronos time is about measuring and scheduling and it’s about the units of hours and days and weeks etc. I’m sure that in these days of planning and preparation for Christmas there is a lot which occupies our mind regarding ‘chronos’ time. That is certainly true all year round for those in prison ‘doing time.’ Whether it is sentence length, or the number of hours in or out of cells, or the scheduled times for meals, activities or visits, people in prison are very aware of the chronos of time, as are their families and friends.
Christmas is not primarily about a date in December which comes at the end of a calendar countdown. Rather it is the celebration of a ‘kairos’ moment. Kairos time is different from chronos time and is about those significant moments which shape the stories of people’s lives, whether individuals, communities, nations or more.
That first Christmas was the point in time when God chose to come to earth in human form as a tiny vulnerable baby. It was a kairos moment in God’s plan of rescue.
That tiny baby grew up to reveal in flesh and blood the love of God stronger than even death itself. And that birth one night in a seemingly insignificant place, celebrated by night-time workers on the hillside, has led to immeasurable kairos moments of transformation and hope throughout history.
Thank you to all of you who visit those in prison, pray for them, or connect in different ways. Those times in the chronology of your week or month which are there on the calendar or in the diary, can be kairos moments in the lives of individuals in prison or in the lives of their families, as well as in the lives of victims of crime, and you may never know.
May the hope, love and life of the Christ-child touch you afresh this Christmas. Amid the hours and days ahead may there be kairos moments of encounter with God for you, and also for those you meet and pray for across the criminal justice system.
This comes with my heartfelt thanks and prayers.
Bishop Rachel Treweek is the Bishop of Gloucester, CofE Bishop for HM prisons and a Prison Fellowship patron.
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