Christ Church Episcopal
Hudson, New York
where all souls are cherished
Sermon: The Third Sunday after the Epiphany*
January 26, 2020 (Annual Meeting)
The Rev. Eileen Weglarz
Isaiah 9:1-4; Psalm 27:1, 5-13; 1 Corinthians 1:10-18; Matthew 4:12-23
The following is a list of answers given by English school children on their religion exams. It was published in an issue of “Atlantic Monthly” back in the 90’s. You might have seen this list floating around in emails over the years. They show how easy it is to misunderstand what one sometimes thinks one is hearing and how easy it is to misapply what we construe as fact.
Noah’s wife was called Joan of the Ark
A myth is a female moth.
Sometimes it is difficult to hear in church because the agnostics are so terrible.
The Pope lives in a vacuum.
The Fifth Commandment is “Humor your father and mother.”
And my favorite of all: Lot’s wife was a pillar of salt by day and a ball of fire by night.
The children’s understanding and answers might have been a bit skewed. However, we don’t usually misunderstand those times when God reveals God’s self to us in powerful ways that make a huge impact on our lives and often change us forever. Rather, looking back, we often find that these times contribute to or foresee fulfillment of God’s finest purposes for us and help our lives make sense.
New Testament Greek has two words for time—chronos and kairos. Chronos, which is the root of the word chronology, is clock time. Each second is exactly like the one that preceded it and the one that follows it. It is every day, not necessarily powerfully meaningful time. Chronos time is time that passes, good or bad. It is a void that must be filled. It is time we must “put in” or time that we have to get things done; it is routine.
Kairos time is full time, vital time, crucial time, decisive time, God’s time. Kairos moments are those powerful, extra-special moments that are packed with meaning. While chronos is clock time that passes, kairos is when time stands still. Kairos is when God breaks into the routine and speaks loud and clear, and you are touched so powerfully deep in your soul that afterward you are never quite the same. It is an “aha” experience. Theologians call it the moment of revelation.
Kairos is a key word in the New Testament. When Jesus started his ministry he came into Galilee preaching and saying, “The time is fulfilled. The Kingdom is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel I bring to you.” The word for time in this instance is kairos.
For Jesus in this morning’s gospel, it was his time in which Isaiah’s prophecy would be fulfilled. Jesus’ life from that time forward would be packed with kairos moments that changed people’s lives.
For example, Zacchaeus: Jesus saw him in the sycamore tree. They connected and it was a kairos moment for Zaccaeus that changed his life forever.
Blind Bartimaeus: No one else was paying attention to him, but Jesus heard his cries, connected with him, and it was a kairos moment that changed his life forever with sight and insight. The hemorrhaging woman came up behind Jesus, touched his robe, and he connected with her. And it was a kairos moment that changed her health and future forever.
Jesus continues to bring these moments. He touches someone’s life and he or she is transformed, forgiven, healed, or maybe all three. We read one this morning. Matthew writes: “The kairos is fulfilled.” And what did Jesus do at that moment? He called his disciples. It was a kairos moment for them. Their lives would be dramatically changed; so would history and God’s relationship with humanity.
Kairos moments are around us if we have eyes to see them, ears to hear them, and hearts to feel them. If we are open, expectant, and truly seeking God, the Holy Spirit is faithful to show up in kairos.
In my own life I experienced several profound kairos moments—of encouragement, healing, and inspiration. This morning I will share with you three kairos moments that were dramatically life changing.
One kairos moment is that of encouragement. My husband and I were getting a divorce after 17 years of a very difficult marriage. My health, both physical and emotional, was suffering. The church I attended was a conservative Evangelical church where divorce was one of those ultimate sins in life that the pastor, leadership and congregation of my church could not accept. As one who lived her whole life striving to be faithful to Christ and the Church, the pain of this judgment by my beloved church was more painful than the divorce itself.
One evening I went home from a demoralizing discussion with one of the elders, feeling alone, abandoned, rejected, and depressed. The next morning during my prayer time the phone rang. The caller was the wife of the head elder. Gerry was one of my best friends, almost old enough to be my mother. She hadn’t at this point really given me her assessment of my fallen position, so I held my breath and braced myself for another barrage of chastisement.
Instead, her voice was wavering with emotion. She said that during her time of prayer for me, she stumbled upon verses in her reading that she thought God had given her concerning me. The first was Jeremiah 29:11-12, concerning the Nation of Israel: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”
She also shared a verse from the Prophet Joel, verse 25: “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten…”
After she read these verses, both of us sobbed. She had encouraged me by sharing what God had revealed to her in the scriptures. These passages were healing and gave me hope for the future. I didn’t realize it at the time, but they were an early part of my spiritual journey into serving God in the priesthood.
Another kairos moment for me was a moment of healing. And yet another was one of inspiration. In each experience, I realized that God was using not only my gifts, education, and life experience, but also the pain and the desire of my life in the work God had called me to—the plans that he had for me many years before—that of serving—for my future, as the passage from Joel so poignantly prophesied. Chronos events had caused much pain, but Kairos moments brought God’s revelation, fulfillment and joy.
Three kinds of Kairos moments that changed me forever: healing, encouragement, and inspiration—that guided me and helped me fulfill the plans God had for me. Jesus came to be the Light of the World, and Jesus came to be the Light in each one of our lives and in the life of this Parish Family.
What are the chronos or kairos moments that you have experienced in your life? How are you lettingThey remind me of the passage from Romans 8:28: “For behold, all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.” To me that means the good, the bad and the ugly times—God uses them all when we follow his call on our lives.
Are you willing to embrace what might be painful Chronos and offer it up to God, so that you experience the movement of God’s Holy Spirit and then ask God to reveal God’s self to you? Are you willing to let the Chronos events go, along with the discouragement, pain, and anger some might have engendered, so that they can be transformed by Kairos moments that God brings?
My prayer this year for all of you, our Parish Family of Christ Church, is that both individually and corporately you will no longer simply “put in time,” be it at work or prayer or church, but rather that you will find your life and service to Christ filled with God’s Kairos. May your days, one after another, be filled with moments where time stands still and you are filled with joy and wonder and blessing.
Imagine how spirit-filled, powerful, loving, and contagious will be our mission, worship, service, fellowship, and growth. I believe that as the Body of Christ at Christ Church, we are at a time when the Holy Spirit could break through in a new way at any moment. It’s up to us.
Are we ready for a kairos moment in the life of this Parish? Are we ready to receive a vision for physical and spiritual growth, ministry, outreach, and fellowship that is life changing for us and for those with whom we come into contact? Imagine what would be possible. Imagine…
Let us pray…Oh God, we give our lives to you—our time, talent, and treasure—our bodies, minds, and spirit—all to be used as you will and for the furtherance of your Kingdom. Teach us to follow Jesus without hesitation, as did Peter and Andrew, James and John. Bring those Kairos moments and signs into our lives that will let us know without a doubt that you are touching our lives and leading us. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.