December 1, 2013 by Ken Dale
Did you ever wonder what life would be like if we did not have watches – or maybe even clocks? I?m sure it would probably create quite a bit of chaos. But the point is that so often it seems we really find ourselves living under the tyranny of time. Chronos time – that?s chronological time – sequential time. I?m usually hungry if I look at my watch around noon time and to be honest, more often than not I?m hungry because my watch tells me I must be – it?s noon time. It happens again around 6 PM. Like many of you I have a lot of time scheduled – meetings that happen the same time on the same day of the same week each month. I think of families that accommodate multiple work and school schedules and extra-curricular activities. I think that is especially true in Congregational Churches – though certainly not limited to that. We have a tendency to be very involved in our communities.
I once read that digital clock faces only encourage that perception of time. But if you have a non-digital clock face that has hands that move around on it – one is more apt to get a sense of how time really is – moving with a sense of past and future. It is marking time more like the movement of the sun rising and going down and we know where we stand between the beginning and the end of the day. In our epistle lesson today we hear Paul?s words, ?you know what time it is? He is not speaking of the daily round of events. Rather he is thinking of all of time having a beginning and an ending. Just as God brought all things into being at creation so also there will be a time when God brings – the history of this world – to an end and usher in the promised new creation.
Christian faith believes that in the person of Jesus of Nazareth that end time – that new creation – has begun to break into our present. In him we see how life will be in that new creation – love, peace, fairness. And Paul urges us to ?put on Christ? – to wear the clothes of life his way – putting aside quarreling and jealousy and the things that destroy community and injure relationships with others. Paul is telling us to start living now as though that new day, that new creation has already begun.
The hope for our season of Advent this year is that we will focus on the sacred. Each week our sacred focus will shift: sacred time, sacred people, sacred space, sacred knowing, sacred being (Christmas Eve) and conclude the Sunday after Christmas with sacred sending. The staff is pretty excited about it and Arne Aho has designed bulletin covers that will help our focus as our Advent journey continues each week. Advent has long been for many a time when there is a real clash between the secular and the sacred – with the commercialism of Christmas beginning now with Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. Gee – I wonder if we could work in Spiritual Sunday? In planning our worship for this season we are utilizing resources from Dr. Marcia McFee who works closely with a woman named Dr. Sharon Fennema who just happens to be a member of this church.?One of Dr. McFee?s students writes that unseized or unmanaged time tends to flow towards all sorts of things. This is especially true if it presents itself as an emergency – your own or someone else?s. She wonders if this isn?t especially true in this Advent-Christmas season. There is an urgency that could easily send us into an emergency mode as we chase the flashing lights and sirens from tree lot to shopping mall to craft fairs to office party to friend?s party to family party to church. Even in church it seems we get busy and frustrated with not enough time. It is too easy to get caught up in the busyness of it all. It is the busyness of chronos time – that sequential time, ordered time – that gotta get so many things done time.
Our hope is that spiritual aspect of the Advent – Christmas season is our primary focus in the coming weeks. And the hope is that it happens in such a way that it impacts more than just Sunday morning.
I mentioned chronos or sequential time – there is also kairos time. Kairos time is understood in the New Testament as an appointed moment in time when God acts – it is time beyond time- time that touches eternity – it is sacred time – it is time that happens to you instead of you making it happen. I?m sure we have all had those kairos moments in our lives – for me it was witnessing the birth of my children, or being present with someone at the moment of their death. Most recently for me it was walking into a hospital room where I witnessed my son Matt sitting holding his newborn son. It was moments later as I sat holding my grandson – I experienced generations – past, present and future, in just a moment. It was reading a note I received in the mail this past Friday as someone wrote of what a big difference some time we shared together in such a simple way had in her journey of life and faith. Reading the note was a sacred moment for me. These are sacred moments that happen to us.
The Advent-Christmas season is sacred time and it can be filled with kairos moments – sacred moments where the events we remember touch us and speak to us. We do not just hear about them, we do not just learn about them, we experience them and experience them as sacred time – as time when God has acted in history in the past, but acts once again in the present. But they don?t happen if we are too wrapped up in the busyness of the things of chronos time that take up our time. Those sacred moments may happen, but we may miss them. And often it is in the choices that we make – what we choose to make the central focus in our lives. We can focus on the things that we need to do to the point that we miss what God may seek to be doing in our lives. The lessons and historical events we remember in the coming weeks, the stories and the metaphors that are brought before us are sacred and they can touch us and speak to us in a new way – they can challenge and change us, if we are open to the movement of the living God in our midst. Kairos moments happen to us in many ways – in events, in music, in story, — when we are touched in a holy way. But we need to stop – pause long enough to listen and to see with our hearts as well as our minds. That is sacred time. This morning as you come forward to receive the bread and cup of the sacrament you are invited to bring with you your paper watch with the things that take up our time during Advent and Christmas and leave them in the plate on the table. After receiving the sacrament you are invited to take a reminder to make space in your Advent journey to Christmas for that sacred time.
Advent?s journey to Christmas is kairos time.?It is a time for us to be open to the presence of God in our midst as we remember the story of Emmanuel of God with us ??of the Word of God becoming flesh and dwelling among us ??of light that shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it.
So may it be for us each as individuals of faith and so may it be for us all as this community of faith – may God be at work in our midst this season of Advent and Christmas for healing and for wholeness and a profound experience of God?s love come to us in Christ.