Life Is Like A Football Match - St Bride's: Reflection

St Bride's: Sermons

Life Is Like A Football Match

Life Is Like A Football Match

Are you a kairos person or a chronos person? If you don't know what I'm talking about, let me explain.

Both kairos and chronos are Greek words for time - both appear in the Bible, but chronos means linear time, measured in seconds, minutes, hours, days, months etc. Time stretching out. Kairos means a moment in time, an opportunity; so when the Bible in this Advent season tells us "now is the time to awake out of sleep" - we are being told not to make plans and to pit a date in our diary, but to get ready now - this moment - for the coming of Christ.

So are you a chairos or a chronos person? Someone who likes their day or week well-planned, who likes to know what's happening and when, who likes things to be predictable; or, are you someone who likes to be spontaneous, to seize the moment, who doesn't like too much pre-planning? Who will simply do things on a whim?

Most of us, I suspect, are a bit of both, and we need both elements of character if we are to be able to cope with what life throws at us. And that's because human life is not like a marathon: it's more like a football match. What do I mean? Let me explain.

We like to think that our lives are like a marathon, and there's evidence in Paul's writings to back that up: that our job is to keep going from start to finish, running the race steadily, keeping our eyes on the finishing line. Set our goals and work steadily to achieve them.

Actually, life is more like a football match: most of us, when we have the ball, get interrupted before scoring; or we have to pass the ball to someone else. We may not get to score the goal we had so carefully set up.

In other words, our paths in life get interrupted. Our hopes and dreams go astray and we don't always complete what we have started. But when setbacks or changes of direction occur, we pick ourselves up and start afresh. Life takes unexpected turns, opening up new opportunites, new challenges.

That's why I think life is more like a football match than a marathon, and coping with that is part of the art of living - coping with interruptions and changes of direction.

The apostle Paul often had to cope with interruptions - he wanted to go to Spain but he ended up in prison in Rome - that could have been a disappointment but he turned it into an occasion for grace. Moses, called by God to lead the Hebrew people through the wilderness, never got into the promised land. He risked a lot but he had to leave the journey unfinished. That often mirrors our experience of dreams unrealised or deferred, things left unfinished.

When that happens it helps to remember that we are called to be chairos people as well as chronos people. We need the resilience not to be crushed when our plans don't work out, but to have the flexibility of heart and mind that allows us to seize opportunities, new moments in our lives, and respond to what God may be saying to us in the present moment. That's what this season of Advent teaches us - "Now is the time..."

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