“Folded Into Time”: A Sermon by Pastor Bob

“As we begin this New Year, we are offered something wonderful. We are offered the opportunity to live not just day-by-day, but we are invited into the kairos moments of God, where we are literally enfolded into God’s time, into God’s self.

Folded Into Time

A sermon by Pastor Bob

January 1, 2012

Text: Mark 13:24-36

Mark 13:24-36

“But in those days, following that distress,

“‘the sun will be darkened,

and the moon will not give its light;

the stars will fall from the sky,

and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’

“At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.

“Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.

“Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping.

–Did any of you stay up till midnight last night?

–Did you break out champagne or sparkling cider and celebrate the New Year?

–Or did you watch the big ball in Time Square drop at 9 pm Pacific time and call it a night?

–In either case, you were caught up in a progressive, measurable sense of time that in the Greek is called chronos.

–from which we get the word, “chronometer.”

–Yet, as each of you knows, time is more than just the passing of minutes.

–It’s also what you do with them.

–Now, in the Greek, there is another sense of time called kairos, and it is more of an event, a happening.

Kairos moments occur when you lose track of time because every moment is being emblazed upon your whole being.

–That is a kairos moment.

–I remember the birth of my daughters, with details that go beyond even a recorded video.

–I remember the warmth of the sun in the room, the next day I awoke to find my newborn snuggled next to me in my sleeping bag—my arm around her little body.

–Utterly exhausted, yet filled with a strange sense of the moment.

–Maybe it was a few seconds, or minutes, I don’t remember.

–All I remember is a deep love for this little one and for my wife a few feet away.

–There are other kairos moments that share the wrinkles of time:

–A fight with a loved one.

–An embarrassing moment that still reddens the cheeks.

–These moments, these kairos events, shape our understanding of our lives.

–And if they are mostly difficult moments, then the times in-between seem non-existent.

–The Holiday season is often filled with some of the most joyful and difficult events.

–So we have chronos (a continuous sense of the passage of time) and we have kairos (time marked by a specific event)

–In our Bible reading, when Jesus speaks of time, he uses the word, “kairos.”

–Jesus is talking about the time when he will come again with great power and glory.

–And he tells his disciples to stay alert for no one knows the time, the kairos when he will return.

–This time is determined by God the Father.

--For it is in God’s time…

–Yes there will be signs

–Just as we know the summer is coming by the greening of a fig tree

–We will know the time is near for Christ to come again.

–But we will not be able to measure the chronos, the time off our calendars.

–Again, it is in God’s time.

–As we begin this New Year, we are offered something wonderful.

–We are offered the opportunity to live not just day-by-day, but we are invited into the kairos moments of God where we are literally enfolded into God’s time, into God’s self.

[Take a scarf and begin to fold it like an accordion]

–Time itself becomes like this scarf that God arranges—not predetermined, but rather punctuated by God’s presence.

–Its beginning marks our beginning.

–A point before time, before God’s words would bring in the universe, would bring in us.

–It is the love of a creator, who knows us before we were born.

–Who knows the pain and the joy of living.

–Yet holds us in a love like a beaming parent.

–Then God takes another fold, a kairos moment.

–It is the birth of his own son.

–More than a son, Jesus is God.

–And in a sweep of folds, Jesus’ death and resurrection are joined together with that first fold.

–And then it happens, in a moment of singular creation, we are born.

–It is a fold, a ripple in the universe.

–A point that God breathes into the universe with the word: “Be”

–And we are.

–We therefore become caught up in so many events in this life.

–Some are cherished.

–And some are best forgotten.

–But there are points that God surely gathers into those final folds:

–Our baptism for instance.

–Joined with the folds of Jesus’ baptism we find our place with our creator, our savior, our hope.

–Moments of helpless faith.

–Not those pious moments of “I am so good, I believe, I have no uncertainty,”

–But those moments of desperation when we fall on our knees at the foot of the cross.

–For God has enfolded us into it.

–And with eyes that are not our own, we glimpse into the eyes of Christ, hanging in agony from the cross.

–“I am with you,” Jesus says to us in barely a whisper.

–And then there are those moments when we are tied to the resurrection:

–When we are lifted to our feet by the word: “live.”

–When we are given a peace that is not our own.

–When we are given a hope that we have not earned.

–“Live” says the Creator of the universe.

–“Live” says the Lord who walks through the doors that we so tightly keep shut.

–“Live.”

–In our confession today, in the bread and wine and blessing, we are lifted up into this important fold that begins our New Year.

–We in confession are reminded of what is really kairos, and what is to be forgiven and forgotten.

–We in the Lord’s meal, taste eternity.

–A meal linked to another fold as Christ gives that first communion to his disciples.

–And linked to a fold that is our future.

–An eternal meal with our resurrected loved ones.

–We in God’s love are folded into a future that is just as real as our present and our past.

–May God bless you in this New Year.

–May you be enfolded in a love that knows no bounds.

–May you watch for those kairos moments to unfold in your life …

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

    Been reading some good ol’ Madeline L’Engle, have we? (The copy of “A Wrinkle in Time” I have has a Chronos and Kairos scale for her characters as a foreward ) I’ve only read that book and one other in her Time Quartet – wonderful reads for the rabid fantasy fan. Timey-wimey, spiritual undertones… good books, so I need to get the rest. A friend of mine compared my writing style to hers and I took it as a grand compliment.

    Is it strange that some of the more harrowing and painful “kairos” moments in my life are things that I *don’t* think are “best left forgotten?” There are certain events in my life that I wish hadn’t happened but I feel I must keep as defining moments and lessons.

    Another intersting thing is the scripture itself. I’ve met people online who tried to use that very scripture to debunk Christianity because they apparently were thinking in straight Chronos – or just didn’t read carefully – or something. The part where Jesus says “this generation will not pass away until…” – They say that prooves Christianity is bunk because Jesus didn’t return in the generation of people he was talking to (all the people he was talking to are dead now). Whenever people try to do this, I just go “Huh?” and am at a point where I walk away and don’t even try to correct those who aren’t going to listen: I never read that scripture that way – or heard any pastor or anyone who studies scripture seriously take it that way. I always read the verse as meaning “some future generation that sees funky stuff going down in the world,” not a reference to the people he was actually talking to at the time.

    Is that weird? Or am I just thinking in a different kind of Chronos than some people, or thinking in Kairos when most are obessed with Chronos?

    • Donald Rappe

      Yup, I think you’ve opted to live more in terms of your kairos. Gives you a different viewpoint, I think. When I read the words, they make me think of God’s judgement. What do I possess that can survive, when he comes and melts the whole world down with fervent heat? Nothing. I must then either be possessed by God or gone.

      • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

        I definitely loose track of the Chronos, that’s for sure. For me, I’m into the “event” of writing, doing art, taking a walk, working, or lately, playing the heck out of my videogame Christmas present, which, incidently, involves extensive playing with the fabric of Time as part of the plotline and puzzle-solving. It’s funny how I can lose track of time while *playing with Time.* (Yes, I’m 32 and still love games – so much that I sometimes read philosophy and theology into them that the game creators probably didn’t intend. I think my last blog post is the result of all the disscussions of “Free Will” on this blog…)

        A definitive Kairos incident that really sticks out in my mind right now is an incident that happened to me last June. Funny how what was probably chronologically 15 minutes of me standing/running between a panicked horse and traffic felt like a least an hour. It felt like an “eternal moment” at the time becasue I seriously feared I was going to die.

        It always seems like it’s the bad stuff / scary stuff that seems to last forever. Time flies when you’re having fun.

        • Donald Rappe

          You’re even younger than I thought. I avoid most games. Either I am not good at them or I feel in danger of getting lost “in there” and not coming back out.

          May your new year be a happy one.

  • http://brickandtimber.wordpress.com/ DR

    As usual, so great. Thank you!

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdgalloway

    I’ve read this twice now, and realize how much I have needed to see those words. This past Sunday, we also did communion. I was suddenly struck by the fact that I don’t deserve God’s love, yet God’s love for me is so strong, so constant, so sustaining that I was simply blown away by the thought.

    As I am going through a bit of a personal rough patch, thanks to the mechanics of a certain person who used to be in my life, that assurance, is a comfort. I know God’s love is folded in my present as well as my future.


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