The text for this sermon is Matthew 3:13-17.
We are in the midst of the Sermon Series that encourages all of us to reconsider our priorities and commit in 2011 to living full and whole lives of faith. To do so not only pleases God, but leads to a purpose driven life that is exactly what God hoped for us at our baptism. Last week, we talked about sharing our talents generously with God’s world. Today, I want us to think about how we are to consider the time that we are given on this earth.
The funny thing about time is how we think we can control or manipulate it. We put a value on it and treat it like money. Just look at our language. Time is money. We spend time or try to spend less time. We want to spend it wisely not foolishly. Time adds up. We manage our time and hopefully save time. We invest our time. We live on borrowed time. We lend each other our time.
Whole industries exist to help us be productive with our time. Especially at the New Year, articles are written about how to spend less time on…taxes, bills, exercise, commutes, making dinner, etc…in order to spend more time on those things that truly bring us joy. These 21st century sages tell us to be happy, we need to spend less time on others and more time on ourselves or just the opposite, but regardless they are sure they are right.
If we step back, we realize how foolish this all is. We cannot monetize time. We cannot move it around, save it or share it with anyone else. Time exists, period. We are subject to its constant and assured march forward. Nothing, nothing we do, stops or alters that. If we spend our time on lives focused inward, we won’t find happiness, but rather isolation and emptiness. Time is an issue, but the world isn’t leading us to the right solutions.
Paul in Ephesians 5:15-16 tells us, Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time… As Christians we want to use our time in a way that would please God. In the baptism of Jesus, notice what God the Father in heaven says as Jesus is immersed. This is my beloved, with whom I am well pleased. We talk all the time in church that in baptism we receive God’s grace, beloved by God just as Jesus. However, what sometimes gets missed is our response after baptism, a life lived that would make God well pleased with us.
The most pleasing act we can do with our time is to value and delight in the time we are given. This isn’t defined by how productive we are with it, but rather how well we allow ourselves to experience it. Sometimes, wasting time is the best thing we can do. One of my favorite memories with Paige is a vacation we took years ago. Paige’s mom watched our kids at our house in Detroit, and Paige and I drove together to a good friend’s house in Madison, Wisconsin. We took the long way, vowing not to travel on the interstate. The two lane roads we drove over added hours to the journey, but we filled them with conversation, laughter and music. We even stopped at the eighth wonder of the world that surprisingly is found in Western Michigan. It’s a hill where gravity is reversed. Who knew? It was not productive, but for a married couple with busy lives full of career and young kids, it was the wisest use of our time we could have chosen.
The Greeks had two different words for time, Chronos and Kairos. Both are used often in our bible. Chronos is clock time, the hours, the minutes and the seconds of our lives. Kairos are those unique moments in our life, when something happens that defines us for good or for bad.
We mark our life by Chronos time, but we are defined by Kairos moments. When I tell you about my vacation celebrating my 25th Wedding Anniversary this summer, I don’t tell you about the Chronos minutes spent packing or brushing my teeth. I share the Kairos moment after dinner where it was just Paige and I on the beach alone, with the stars, sand and surf. Beautiful, until those darned flees started biting and we were chased inside.
It is in Kairos moments that we experience God. Mountaintop highs when we can taste the breath of God that blows over us. Dark valley days where we cry out to God as Jesus did on the cross, “Why have you forsaken me?” The exact moment you your baby girl and knew that with goodness this great there surely is a God. The moment that boy in eighth grade knocked that book out of your hand and the rest of class gathered around you and laughed. Those are Kairos moments.
Kairos moments happen in the midst of Chronos time. Throw out the idea of quality time versus quantity time. A farmer can’t grow a good crop by just spending a few hours each week of quality time with his corn, any more than we can raise a healthy child by giving him our attention a few moments a day. The best relationships have Kairos moments that happened in the midst of alot of Chronos time spent together. Our relationship with God is no different.
For our faith to be a valuable gift for our life, we must invest Chronos time to experience the Kairos moments. This means we can’t just dabble in our faith, putting it on like starchy, uncomfortable Sunday shirts for an hour each week. If we are to wear our faith 24/7, it must fit like that comfortable pair of jeans that we love not only because they feel great, but because they say they are a size smaller than anything else in our closet.
God wants us to treat all the time given to us as a good gift, because any Chronos minute could become a Kairos moment. To be wise with our time, we must treat every minute as sacred, because each is pregnant with possibility. Any seemingly boring minute can erupt into a wonderful, beautiful God moment, if we are engaged and if we are expecting for it.
This is why I work in my office at church with my door open and seldom work at home as many pastors do. I am much more productive and comfortable at home, where I have a desk in my bedroom. My dogs lay peacefully at my feet. I can stretch out in a big overstuffed chair or even read in bed. If I was solely worried about getting stuff done, that is where I would do 90% of my work.
If I worked at home, I would never be interrupted by you. It is those interruptions that are the richest Kairos moments. I hear about how your houses are being remodeled, your worries about your daughter and her addictions, the tumor that they found at your last doctor’s visit, the ship you served on in World War II, how much you enjoyed being a Sunday School teacher last week, the cool dream that sounds like God is trying to tell you something. While spending Chronos time at my desk, God sends you to my office with new, great Kairos moments.
Just as Jesus’ ministry started after his baptism, our ministry begins from baptism, too. Whether we have years, months or days to serve in this world, the hope of God is that we spend our time wisely. Living in Chronos time, expecting Kairos moments is the wisest way we can live. To live life as God hopes, we must expect God every minute of every day to bless us with His presence. A life of faith is a life of promise 52 Weeks a Year and that would be pleasing to God. Amen