Ecclesiastes 3:1-8? Ephesians 5:15-20

August 16, 2015 by Ken Dale

If any of you are wondering what this is going to be about, it?s going to be about 10-12 minutes.? Got time?? I think Bunker Hill Baptist Church is the only church I?ve been in that doesn?t have a clock on the back wall facing the preacher!? How many of us wearing a watch just looked at it?? I guess I dated myself when a couple of weeks ago Kathy and I were at the Maine State Theater and as we were seated I took my cell phone out to be sure it was on silent.? The lady that seated us immediately asked me what the time was and I looked at my watch ? of course I was holding the phone in that hand and the time was on that in great big numbers.? I guess the they times are a changing.

Think of the phrases we use about time ? we kill time, we save time, we spend time, we waste time, time flies, time heals, we have too much time, but there is not enough time, but all in due time, and there?s no time like the present.? I had a laugh back in the 80?s I bought a book by Lyle Schaller who writes books about church work.? The title of the book was GETTING THINGS DONE but I never seemed to find time to read it.? With modern conveniences we can even multitask with our time.? Just think ? it is possible to wash clothes, wash dishes, cook, and vacuum all at the same time not to mention sing while you?re at it!? We heard from Ecclesiastes that there is a time for every matter under heaven.

Our reading from Paul?s letter to the Ephesians this morning has some wisdom in it ? Paul says ?Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time??? ?I wonder if he is encouraging us to make the most of our time by learning to fully use the small scraps of time, the in-between moments. ?I don?t know where all the time goes in my life ? but I can pray while I?m driving and I can pray while I?m tending to my garden ? weeding!? Is that down time?? It?s great solitude ? no one ever bothers you when you?re weeding.? I think a lot while weeding ? and think a lot about people ? and can think about God ? and pray.? Barbara Brown Taylor, in her book AN ALTAR IN THE WORLD, ?speaks of her time with Brother David who taught her the difference between prayer and prayers.? Prayers are important ? but prayer is more than that.? According to Brother David, prayer “is waking up to the presence of God no matter where I am or what I am doing.? When I am fully alert to whatever or whoever is right in front of me; when I am electrically aware of the tremendous gift of being alive; when I am able to give myself wholly to the moment I am in, then I am in prayer.? Prayer is happening, and it is not necessarily something that I am doing.? God is happening, and I am lucky enough to know that I am in The Midst.” ?(p. 178)

My garden time often is giving thanks to God for where I am living and the special discoveries I am making in new things to do with the landscape of the yard and over time my prayers turn from thanksgiving to intercession and I pray as I think about various people in my life and how they are and what was happening in their lives.? It is really great time ? ?weeding the garden, yet so much more!

Last week?s reading from Ephesians began looking at a checklist from Paul on how to be living.? He starts today with be careful how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time?? What a great phrase ? making the most of the time.? I could have spent all that garden time cursing those ol? weeds ? maybe thinking I?d rather be fishing than pulling weeds??? But because those weeds were there ?I could??? I could be thankful, I could be at prayer, I could think, not to mention that time makes those gardens look a whole lot better than they did before I weeded.? It is a matter of making the most of the time.

Pilgrim Press has a wonderful series of little booklets??? They are filled with scripture and thoughts for the different times in our lives.? One of them is for people who are ill ? perhaps hospitalized and the title is Looking Up While Lying Down.?? One of the thoughts is about the oyster and what it does when a grain of sand gets in there and irritates the oyster ? that?s when the oyster makes a pearl.? The point being that even in our down times, trying times, challenging time, irritating times ? there is opportunity, and there is opportunity by faith ? by remembering God?s presence in our lives, a way to make the most of the time.

Now I am not in the least simply talking about positive thinking ? it?s more about faithful thinking ? remembering God?s presence with you and remembering that God can work with us in those times.? Remembering God to be present doesn?t remove the pain ? physical, emotional or spiritual.? They are still very difficult and challenging times.? As a pastor and hospice chaplain I have witnessed the power of faith in the lives of so many.? I remember a church family one time where the husband was nearing the end of his life in a battle with cancer.? His wife was also diagnosed with cancer and she required surgery ? and of course in their home she was the primary caregiver for her husband.? It was nothing short of miraculous to see how all their children literally jumped into their home and organized and provided care for their parents ? and in the midst of it all not only were the parents blessed but a lot of sibling relationships grew to deeper levels as well in the time they shared.? In the midst of all the sad and tragic events of their family there was much to celebrate and be thankful for ? and it was easy to see God at work in their life together making the most of that time!

Paul ends with giving thanks to God? at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. ?Do we want to give thanks to God ?at all times?? It?s interesting to note that Paul writes this letter from a jail cell and he is awaiting almost certain execution.? Jumping back to our opening verse ? Paul speaks of making the most of our time ? the Greek word for time there is kairos which differs from chronos.? Chronos is clock time ? calendar time ? doing your time is passing the time and it is nothing really significant.? But kairos is significant time, a significant moment in time, an unexpected opportunity, a critical turning point in one?s life.? Ever experience that?? Why not share it with someone during coffee ? extend this worship ? share your kairos moments.

Some of those kairos moments are in difficult, stressful, less happy times.? Paul sits in prison ? but what does he do with that chronos time?? It becomes kairos as he writes a letter to the small struggling church ? a letter of encouragement.? And isn?t it amazing what happens to those letters?? Today we call them scripture; today we call them, sacred, today they are part of the Bible which we also call the Word of God.? Isn?t it amazing!?? I close with some wonderful thoughts from Henry Nouwen:

We belong to a generation that wants to see the results of our work?and see with our own eyes what we have made.? But that is not the way of God?s Kingdom.? Often our witness for God does not lead to tangible results.? Jesus himself died as a failure on a cross.? There was no success there to be proud of.? Still, the fruitfulness of Jesus? life is beyond any human measure.? As faithful witnesses of Jesus we have to trust that our lives too will be fruitful even though we cannot see their fruit.? The fruit of our lives may be visible only to those who live after us.?

The point of course is that God is at work in all that we are and all that we do.? As Nouwen states, What is important is how well we love.? God will make our love fruitful, whether we see that fruitfulness or not.

So! If there is a time for every matter under heaven ? what time is it for you?