By Erik Ingram
The start of a new school year usually seems to find me in a reflective mood. Next
month will mark eight years since I got my first introduction to Logan and Cache Valley, and last
month marked seven years of living here among you. That in and of itself has been a tremendous gift, with all the experiences I’ve been fortunate to have and memories I’ve been able to make. That’s something I look forward to continuing, at least as much as circumstances allow in the days and months ahead!
At the same time, however, I can’t help but find myself also reflecting on the time I’ve
spent here without finishing my degree program, even as others my age and younger move on
and begin their careers. It’s true that some of the factors contributing to that have been beyond
my control, but it’s still something I’ve had trouble reconciling with at different times. As it
turns out, however, the effects of the ongoing pandemic have given me the opportunity to
consider how this may actually have something to do with God’s plans for my life, from a few
different perspectives. I certainly can’t pretend to know exactly what His plans entail, or how
they come to be, but I’ve been finding comfort in thinking with it during these uncertain
In an earthly sense, the time it’s taking me to progress has served as some protection
when it comes to my chosen career path; were I working at an airline by now as many of my
friends and acquaintances are, there’s a very high probability I would be facing the possibility of
a furlough or layoff. In no way am I trying to suggest that that is in God’s plan for those who are
currently in that position, but it is a thought that has stuck with me since all of this began.
To take a deeper dive into what all of this may mean, I’ve found myself reading into the
philosophy of kairos, which gained prominence through the work of Lutheran theologian, Paul
Tillich. In its original Greek interpretation, it refers generally to a moment of opportunity, or the
critical time for an action to take place (compared to chronos, the term for linear, chronological
time), although a specific definition has proven difficult to accurately pin down. Tillich’s use of
the term was influenced by the changes in the world around him and how they related to the
church as a whole; much of his work on the topic took place in the 1920's and ‘30s as Germany
was transitioning toward the Nazi regime, and consequently he sought to use the moment to
inspire citizens to “look beyond the present moment and into the future to see the urgency of
the present” (Elizabeth Earle, “The Rhetoric of Kairos: Paul Tillich’s Reinterpretation”). That is,
significant occurrences in history represent kairos moments that require action on the part of
an individual body (as a person or an organization).
As it relates to my situation, I’ve come to the idea that my extended education process
is a form of kairos moment; while it may feel as though I’m stuck at times and behind some of
my peers, this is also the opportune time to prepare myself as much as I possibly can for what
the future (as I understand it to look like) may hold. On a larger scale, the pandemic and its
wide-ranging effects are serving as a kairos moment for church bodies of all types, from
congregations like ours to the ELCA to the global family of believers as a whole. As has been
well-documented, it’s been a challenge to discern the right actions to take on all of those levels.
As I understand it, however, this is where we are called to look ahead to the future that we
want for ourselves and as a congregation to determine the path to get there. It’s certainly a
process, but if any of the other journeys we have been on are an indication, it’s one where we
can count on God to help lead the way.
I say absolutely none of this with any sort of certainty or authority; ultimately, I’m just
one individual trying to make sense of my situation, and I’m sure many of you are experiencing
the same thing in your own lives. I do believe, however, that God is using this as a time to
interject and open our eyes, hearts, and minds to the plans He has for each of us, and I hope
that these thoughts bring comfort in times of stress and uncertainty such as these.
This blog is run by the council members of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Logan, UT. For more information, check out our church's website at princeopeace.org.