August 19, 2018 – Pastor Teressa Sivers
“Make the most of every living and breathing moment!” Amen! Make the most of every living and breathing moment. What Paul literally says to the church, the Body of Christ, the ekklesia (Greek for gathered community, what we translate as ‘church’), is “Make the most of the time.” And not just any ‘time,’ God’s time.
We have a complicated relationship with time. Time is precious but it also frustratingly fleeting. We have all these sayings about time:
- Time flies when you are having fun.
- I have too much time on my hands.
- Please, can you make time?
- What a waste of time!
- I’m just killing time.
- I haven’t got the time!
- I have all the time in the world.
Usually we hang out in the ‘not enough time category.’ Albert Einstein said that time is an illusion, but I prefer the philosophical renderings of the late, great Dr. Seuss:
How did it get so late so soon?
It’s night before it’s afternoon.
December is here before it’s June.
My goodness, how time has flewn.
How did it get so late so soon?
Might be my quote for the week. We resonate with Cher’s song, “If I Could Turn Back Time.” We have novels and movies and televisions shows about time travel. If only we had more time!
This complicated relationship with time isn’t new. It is as old as humanity itself. In Jesus’ day, this complicated relationship manifested in two words for time—Kronos and Kairos. We know kronos. It is where we get our word ‘chronological.’ Kronos is ordered time, measured in clocks and calendars. It is the passage of time marked by hours, days, months, and years. When someone asks you what time it is, that is kronos. That is not the word Paul uses here. Paul speaks of Kairos.
Kairos is the fullness of time, fulfilled time. Kairos is a moment that is filled with meaning. It is anticipated time. Kairos is the time a pregnant woman means when she turns to her spouse and says, ‘it’s time!” Or when a pastor turns to the person about to be married and says, “it’s time!” Or when the moment comes to make a huge decision or to say a good-bye—“It’s time.” It isn’t about the minute, hour, or day. It’s about the significance of the moment. It is a moment that invites our full attention, our full presence, so that we don’t miss a thing. In our scriptures, Kairos is often used to speak of God’s activity in time, God’s purpose and presence filling a moment. God is not defined by time—Kronos—God defines time—Kairos. That is the word Paul uses in our reading today—Kairos. Make the most of the Kairos.
As we explored last week, the first three chapters of this letter to the church laid out all that the church is created to be—the Body of Christ at work, with many diverse and unique parts, united to be and to build up the Beloved Community. Now, in the last three chapters—chapters four, five and six—the letter calls the struggling church toward this goal for which it was created. Paul sees both everything the church can be and everything the church currently is, and holds them in tension with each other. The church keeps stepping off of the path on its faith journey. The church at times actually does harm to itself and the world. The church loses focus. The church falls asleep, and is lulled by the call of the world. So Paul yells at it, in verse 14, just before today’s reading. He yells at it in the words of a hymn:
Awake, you sleepers!
Rise from your grave
and Christ will shine on you!
Paul continues into our reading today—Be mindful of how you live. Pay attention. Be wise. Make the most of the time. Make the most of every living and breathing moment, Church!
There is Kairos in our Kronos if we wake up to it, if we are mindful, if we are wise. God’s presence and purpose fill each moment if WE are present to it. One of the ways that we practice being present is here in worship, as Paul knew, where we are filled by and with the Spirit. Here we sing spiritual songs and hymns, and have our hearts attuned to God. Paul speaks here with urgency—Wake up, Ekklesia! Make the most of the time, every living and breathing moment, because these are evil times, dark times. In all times and places where the church exists, there is darkness in the world around it. Paul calls us to be present in the Kairos within the Kronos and Christ will shine on us. Paul is urgent in this call because we are the Body of Christ in ministry to this world. In verse 6 of this same chapter, Paul calls us all the children of the light. “Make the most of the time.” Firmly ground yourself in God in each moment and shine into the darkness, expose the evil for what it is.
We gather as the community in worship to remind ourselves and each other of our call to live in this way, to refocus ourselves. We don’t waste time or kill time. We cherish it, each moment, as the precious gift that it is. We care for the time and the world we inhabit. Maybe we should indeed print out these postcards and send them to each other each week. Encouragement from Ephesus. But for now, let us sing our encouragement to each other. Let us sing and make music with our hearts attuned to God–#395, Take Time to Be Holy.
Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;
abide in him always, and feed on his word.
Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak,
forgetting in nothing his blessing to seek.