Excerpted from our Second Reading
Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
What time is it?
One of the blessings of getting away for a time, whether it is a sabbatical or vacation or just a weekend, is being able to take off one's watch and just put it away. Not care what time it is at all. No more a slave to the clock, a salve to time. Just take it easy. Live in the moment. If you are like me this is easier to say then to do. We tell ourselves "no problem," but just as we begin to take off that watch something just doesn't seem right. There's a tan line that needs to be covered up and our wrist doesn't weight the same, our whole body is unbalanced. We continue to look at our wrist and if the watch is gone people will think we are weirder or weirder than we already are. And who wants that? Best to just leave it on and ignore it. We can just ignore it, right? No problem. When we find ourselves automatically drawn to staring at our wrist that just happens to be sporting a watch we promise ourselves that we will just make our eyes all squinty so that we can't read what it says. That's what we'll do. Problem solved. It's just that easy. Not knowing what time it is.
Of course we have to be willing to leave our cell phones back home on the charger, too. Mine tells me the time in huge numbers if I open it up. And we will have to leave the radio off. And unplug the clocks at home. And pull out the batteries from the rest. Oh, and not turn on our computers. We're probably safe with the clocks on our ranges and microwave ovens since most of us never reset those during the rainy seasons anyway. "Hey dad, how come the stove keeps blinking zero o'clock." Then there's our cable TV and DVD players and a few VCR's still around that might just be smart enough to know what time it is all by themselves as long as we keep them plugged in. And then there's our cars with their clocks and radios.
Let's face it - unless we are willing to find some cave to crawl into or some wilderness to get lost in, we will always be confronted by something that wants to remind us what time it is.
Knowing the time is after all often important. I set two alarms every Sunday morning because I am paranoid about oversleeping and being late for worship. Perhaps you do the same. So often in life, time rules.
So what time is it?
In our second lesson this morning, the Apostle Paul, in his letter to the congregations in Rome, has the answer...And he assumes that every Christian does or at least those that he is writing to: "Besides this," he writes, "you know what time it is."
But, ever the helpful guy that he is, for those who actually might not know, he tells them:
it is "Now the moment for you to wake from sleep."
There it is. Now is the moment to wake from sleep. Everyone awake? Good.
If it was only that simple.
Paul is not concerned with alarm clocks and morning coffee, and hot showers and morning runs and walking the dog and reading the paper, bagels and pop tarts in the toaster oven and the thousands of things that we may do to rouse ourselves in the A.M. No. He wants to make sure that we know what time it is. That we know that it is time to wake from sleep.
So let's dig a little deeper to understand what time Paul is talking about.
By and large time comes in two flavors in the Bible: Chronos, which is the time that our alarm clocks keep and our watches are set to and that all too often rules our lives and Kairos which is "opportune time." Kronos is the time when the door opens for a bit and we can step through it in a new direction. Opportune time. When the pieces have all come together, except we might only see it in hindsight, after the fact, but the Holy Spirit nudges us, encourages us, tells us that now is the time. Now is the time.
When people say that everything happens for a reason I think that sometimes they are confusing a particular understanding of God's will (This happened because God made it happen for some reason know only to God) with Kairos. With Kairos we find ourselves in a situation where the opportunity to act presents itself. Nearly twenty years ago I invested over a year of my life in the U.S. Navy's nuclear power program. I graduated last in my class at the Nuclear Power School that was then here in Orlando. Then six more months at Nuclear prototype training in Windsor, Connecticut where I failed the final oral board twice and got booted out of the program. So watch how Kairos works. Given my walking papers by the nuclear navy, the conventional navy takes me and trains me and sends me to a ship which spends most of its time out at sea which convinces me that that life just wasn't for me. To finish up my time they send us to shore duty on Guam. On Guam there is one Lutheran church without a pastor being led by the laity who were more than welcome to have us help out. I enjoy what I am doing and decide to go to seminary. Everything came together into a moment of Kairos, of opportunity. I chose to go to seminary which is what I believed God desired, but I could have chosen to do something else without ever inquiring of God and spending time in discernment or just not caring what God wanted at all.
Kairos isn't about us as puppets acting out God's grand plans or where everything happens for a reason known only to God so we don't have to worry about it - just go with the flow and God will make all things happen for us and to us. No.
Kairos is about the opportune times that happen in our life in which we can seek God's will in our decision making process or not.
What time is it?
For Paul it is the time for all of us to wake from sleep.
The death and resurrection of Jesus has presented us this moment of Kairos, where we may now conform our lives to his. That's the freedom that grace gives us. Before, the power of sin made it impossible. But now, we have the opportunity to conform our lives to Christ. To seek and know his will and to put it into action in our lives. Now is the time. We are to put on Jesus like we would our own clothes .
And what does Paul offer as what it means to truly put on Christ?
To love one another.
If we are going to act upon this moment of Kairos bought through the death and resurrection of Jesus we must conform ourselves to Christ by loving one another. And let's be honest: to say it and do it ain't the same thing, now is it? Congregations can be these marvelous, wonderful, grace-filled, communities of love and forgiveness and joy embodying the gospel in word and deed and they can be full of judgmental gossipy power-hungry cliques who wouldn't know a word of grace if it bit them. (Not that grace bites people mind you, but you get the idea).
Conforming ourselves to Christ as individuals and as a community of faith by acting in love is our life's work. It is not some chore that we finish and put our feet up and pop open [fill in your favorite beverage here] and relax. It is not for us to be satisfied with who we are - it is for us to wake up every day and put on Christ again and again and again.
The moment of Kairos is here. Now is the time. Now. Today. Always.
This Saturday we need some folks to turn out for our monthly yard day (9AM to noon). The wet weather has produced a fine crop of grass just begging to be mowed. I will make a big batch of chili and throw in some bread for all who lend a hand.
This Sunday we have one service at 10AM. Take some time to look over the worship slip as we have begun to move into the fall and we are looking to see who feels called to serve in the various worship helper opportunities (assisting minister, singer, usher, reader, nursery, altar guild and so forth). Don't assume we know what you want to do - tell us.
Our fall Talent Night is rapidly approaching (SAT SEPT 27th at 7PM) and we need some folks who desire to share their "gifts" or who just want to be entertained. There is also a space to sign up to bring dessert.
And stop by the Pumpkin Patch table and let Kathy Velez and her crew know how you can help - each year the patch provides us with a huge opportunity to meet folks from our surrounding community, tell them about Trinity and raise funds to grow our Christian Education ministries.
Hang out for coffee hour after worship this Sunday and let's catch up!
Next Sunday we move to our fall worship schedule (8AM and 10:45AM) and host our Rally Day (9:30AM). This will be our third year of Intergenerational Sunday school (IGSS) and we are very excited that our emphasis this year will be on Discipleship. Come learn and share what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. IGSS is for all ages. It is for kids and adults, singles and grandparents, couples and families, old and young.
SEVEN FAITH PRACTICES THAT ARE MARKS OF DISCIPLESHIP
Followers of Jesus are inspired to develop practices and patterns for living that characterize a life that is devoted to daily discipleship. Seven common practices have been identified as key to model and nurture.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (Psalm 119:105).
I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad. O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together (Psalm 34:1-3).
INVITE OTHERS OFTEN
But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10:14-15).
ENCOURAGE (PASS ON THE FAITH)
Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action (1 John 3:18).
SERVE FOR THE SAKE OF OTHERS
For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).
“...give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back” (Luke 6: 38).
Ever with you in Christ