Message for January 17, 2021 on Mark 1:14-20 for the 2nd Sunday after Epiphany at St. Luke's Lutheran Church, Richardson, Texas
This week we had to put our wonderful, and very old dog, Marcie to sleep and send her across the rainbow bridge. If you have ever had to do this, you know how difficult it is and how much we have all been crying. Over the past few months, Dan and I have wondered how much time Marcie had left as she has been in decline. But when the time came a couple of nights ago, the decision itself was easy. Marcie gave me a look that said, “it’s time.” As I looked at her face, I realized that she was conveying a truth. It was less a physical assessment, and more a spiritual knowing. Enough was enough. She had suffered enough and she given us everything she could. Even though I did not want it, I knew in that look, in that moment, it was the right time. The pain of sorrow did not change the conviction.
We had a shift in our sense of time—from “what’s next,” which in Greek is chronos (or chronological time, to “what is being revealed,” which in Greek is kairos time. The Gospel of Mark reveals such a shift in spiritual time at the onset of Jesus’ ministry. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
The first words of Jesus’ ministry are, “The time is fulfilled…” In other words, “the kairos, the moment is here, enough is enough. There has been enough suffering, evil has had its way for too long, now is the moment, this is the time, now is the right place, the moment has come; I see it, I feel it, I know it, God’s time is upon us.”
Kairos time—the shift has happened—God’s moment has broken into our chronos time in the person Jesus. He has been filled to overflowing with God’s Holy Spirit at his Baptism, battled the power of Satan in the wilderness, and witnessed God’s great messenger, John the Baptist arrested by the empire. Filled with a sense of urgency about enacting the power of God’s reign over against the powers of evil NOW, Jesus emerges publicly in Galilee and he announces, “the time is fulfilled” – “enough is enough!” It is time to end the power of evil and enact God’s reign of justice, healing and love. Kairos. Now is the moment. Things must be different. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe in the good news.” Jesus is ready to go from conviction to action, from knowing to living, from kairos to kingdom.
We hear Jesus’ call to action—now is the moment to demonstrate God’s power and presence in the lives of real people—to start a new chapter of God’s work against the powers of death and the devil with exorcism, healing, transformation, and a totally new way of living life. “Repent,” says Jesus—"change your perspective and your life—it’s time to have your world upended by the power of love and hope. Enough is enough with the old ways of death, despair, and fear. God’s love and power and might are here for feeding, healing, loving, forgiving, changing, and giving all of us a new direction. God’s Kairos time is upon us.
Propelled by a fierce urgency that God’s time is unfolding in the world, Jesus moves along the Sea of Galilee to enlist followers who will also respond with an urgency that matches his own—with the radical NOW of God’s desire to bring a new freedom to life, and a new power to God’s people.
Peter and Andrew, James and John probably know who Jesus is, they know stories of his preaching or have heard him speak themselves. Galilee is not that big. Perhaps they heard the story of the carpenter’s son who survived 40 days in the wilderness after being baptized by John, the priest’s son, who is also a wilderness-dweller. A renewal movement is afoot, and everyone is hoping to end the reign of terror by Rome--someone has to do something now that John has been arrested.
No doubt they hear the urgency in Jesus’ voice, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” There is something so compelling, so magnetic about him, about his being, his personality, and his message that they share his sense of kairos time, dropping everything in their chronos time to join Jesus’ mission to love and save and do God’s work.
The disciples experience that moment of spiritual truth, that this is the time, this is the moment. The difficulty of leaving family, and the pain of sorrow does not change the conviction of this time: “the moment has come; I see it, I feel it, I know it, God’s time is upon us. I must follow Jesus…”
As followers of Jesus who live in chronos time, we are called to continually pay attention to the inbreaking of God’s kairos time, to follow Jesus Christ with urgency and conviction. We may feel that enough is enough—we have had enough of pandemics and death, loss, disruption, upheaval and change, crises, and battles with evil. God has always had enough of our fear. It feels like this is God’s time—a new year, a vaccine being distributed even if slowly, we have been spiritually preparing for this moment—for God to do something new. It is time to pay close attention.
St. Luke’s knows what it is to pay attention to God’s Kairos time in the midst of chronos time. Sixty-four years ago, the first members of St. Luke’s experienced God’s time bursting forth into their daily live and they knew it was time to found this congregation. Throughout the years, this congregation has continued to trust God’s time as you have called new pastors, and expanded the physical building. In the past three years, we have committed ourselves to paying attention to God’s Kairos time in starting an Endowment and ensuring the mission of the Gospel into the future. We responded to God’s moment of spiritual truth in welcoming the whole rainbow of God’s people including LGBTQ people into full membership and participation of this congregation. We have responded to God’s Kairos time in starting the free breakfast as hunger has increased in our community. Living in kairos time is never easy, but in every moment, we have experienced God’s hand in our decision to worship on-line and outside, and we trust God’s timing for when that decision should change.
With Peter, Andrew, James and John, Jesus calls us to keep living in God’s time. “Repent,” says Jesus—"change your perspective—it’s time to have your world upended by the power of love and hope. God’s power and might are here for feeding, healing, loving, forgiving, changing and giving all of us a new direction. God’s Kairos time is upon us."
To what mission will God call us with a fierce urgency in 2021? Who is it that calls us to be as followers of Jesus who are ready to see that God’s kingdom is near? This week you will receive your congregational Annual Report in the mail and the question that consumes us in this moment is not “what happened last year?” but “what is God’s revealing in this moment?” How is God calling us to move from conviction to action, from knowing to living, from kairos to kingdom?
When we order our lives by God’s Kairos time, we joyfully participate in God’s kingdom with energy, intelligence, imagination, and love. This is what I experience every time I join with many of you at the free Community Breakfast. Regardless of how many guests show up for a serving of burritos and love, I always experience that ministry as kingdom work—sharing love and food and building relationships to let people know God’s presence is alive with an urgent message of grace and hope.
In this new year, we will continue to read scripture together, worship together, pray together, learn and serve together so we will hear God’s urgent call to let our neighbors know that “the Kingdom of God is at hand.” For Jesus wants everyone to know of the loving, forgiving, abundant God because they encountered this God here at the right time, when they urgently needed good news.
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