After we got to Athens and started seeing all the Greek words, Claire – our leader – said she assumed I knew Greek. I had to say I knew ( and let’s use the term “knew” loosely here) a form of Greek that was pretty much a dead language now, the Greek spoken in the time of Jesus.
But I was struck as we made our way first to Newark, then Zurich, then Athens, and finally Lesvos, how appropriate one Greek word is to what is happening in this place, and among us.
The word is “kairos,” and it means in the most literal sense, “time.” But as with many words in Greek, there are several words for time. The most common is “chronos,” which is where we get the word “chronological.” It means simply clock time, time we can measure. We did a lot of that kind of measuring as we flew forward across eight times zones and dealt with the fatigue of over 24 hours of travel.
But we also sensed the presence of another kind of time, which the Greek language calls “kairos.” This is God’s time, the fullness of time, the sense of the inbreaking of grace into chronological time, transforming it and giving it new meaning.
This island is beautiful. As we drove into it for the first time last night, we noticed Christmas lights all around, bustling villages, and breathtaking landscapes. It was good to see life going on as normal here as it has for millennia.
But in the midst of this beauty and normalcy, signs are present everywhere of the fact that hundreds of thousands of refugees have made their way to these shores and still come by the scores every day and night. This is the kairos moment existing in the midst of the routine chronos.
The woman who runs the car rental agency extended great hospitality to us and said, “We are so glad you are here. There are not enough of us on the island to handle it alone.” We are glad to be here as well, if only for a week. We hope our presence, and the presence of many others we’ve already had the chance to meet, will be a sign of the kairos time of God breaking in to God’s world and into all our hearts with peace.
As of now it looks like our team of nine from First Presbyterian will be divided into two teams. We will work two shifts – one from 5:00- midnight, and the other from midnight-8 a.m. Our job will be to patrol a portion of the beach and be prepared to welcome and assist boats of refugees as they come ashore.
I have a few travel photos here. Not sure the quality is the best, but we will have more photos and reflections from the team here as we are able in coming days. Thank you for your prayers. Please continue to pray that we will see and follow God’s kairos time in this place.
Our crew below (l-r top row – Tony Inglis, Kim Joiner, me, Robin Pulliam, Cathy McCall, Harding McCall. l-r bottom row – Elizabeth Stiver, Claire Crunk, and Lexie Pulliam).
Above- Zurich Airport. Below – Our team in Athens airport with luggage and supplies
Above- the tiny airport in Lesvos. Below – photo from plane of Swiss Alps.
Above – enjoying Italian food while on a long layover in Athens airport