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Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit
Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.
When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim
release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor."
And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."
The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy, and like a strong man runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them; and nothing is hid from its heat.
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the decrees of the Lord are sure,
making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey, and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
But who can detect their errors? Clear me from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from the insolent; do not let them have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
"Every day people are straying away from the church, and going back to God." Said 1960s comedian, Lenny Bruce. But don’t stray too far, people. It’s scary out there. The church is a safe place. The church is still the place where we learn about love; where we learn the stories of how God’s people struggled for justice and peace. Where we hear the Psalms remind us that God created the universe in 7 days. "In the beginning there was nothing. And God said, "Let there be light!" And there was light. There was still nothing, but you could see it a whole lot better. Ellen DeGeneres
It is at church where we come to learn how God came to earth to show us how to implement God’s mission . . . and today we have the opening speech Jesus gave as he found his calling. In his home temple, Jesus begins his ministry, in front of all of his family, friends and all the people that he grew up with. And he begins the hardest 3 years of service with this statement. “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor . . . the Great Spirit, God, sends Jesus to a new kind of ministry. A ministry of liberation, of healing, of proclaiming the Lord’s favor on the Lord’s people.
It is God’s new day. It is a moment of God’s choosing. God’s time is Kairos.
Kairos is a greek word for “time” – it is God’s time: full, vital, crucial time, decisive time, God’s energy guiding our time. It is different from chronos time which gives us our word chronology.
Imagine being in a prison cell; dressing in the same orange jumpsuit, in the same cell, in the same block, with the same snotty guards, for two years and has seven more years to live behind bars. Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock. Wake up to shouts, go the bathroom with people in your face, eat meals with people who you wouldn’t give the time of day on the streets. Biding your time, counting the seconds.
Chronos time is empty time; it is what we are talking about when, of all things, we talk about “killing” time. Or maybe it is killing us. . . So, chronos equals humdrum time, doing time. In neutral, going nowhere.
Kairos moments are those powerful, extra-special moments that are packed with meaning. Kairos is when God breaks into the routine and speaks loud and clear and you are touched so powerfully deep in your soul that you can never be the same again.
If our inmate friend is wise, she will use the time behind bars to study and learn the Bible and become educated about herself and begin to look at why things happened the way they did. If she is open to new ideas, she will figure out what went wrong, and learn to avoid those habits and behaviors that lead to criminal behavior.
Kairos time is like a watershed moment, an “ah ha” experience. It is like having an epiphany: a sudden, intuitive perception or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.
Jesus’ life was packed with kairos moments: It is recorded in all the Gospels that, right after John the Baptist is murdered, Jesus goes on the offensive with his ministry. And the disciples sign up. And the healings begin. The fishermen drop their nets and everything to follow Jesus. Zacchaeus comes down from the sycamore tree. The demon possessed man is healed in the cemetery; Blind Bartimaeus – Jesus heard his cries. The hemorrhaging woman came up behind Jesus, touched his robe, and he connected with her, and it was a kairos moment. And what did Jesus do right at that kairos moment? He called his first disciples. It was their moment. It wasn’t just another tick of the clock. They gave up their businesses and their families, they gave up their everyday lives for the possibility of something new. And crowds gathered to follow him.
Theologians call Kairos the moment of revelation. Professors and theologians, like Paul Tillich even call the kairoi those crises in history which create an opportunity for, and indeed demand, an existential decision by the human subject - the coming of Christ being the prime example. In the Kairos Document, an example of liberation theology in South Africa under apartheid, the term kairos is used to denote "the appointed time", "the crucial time" into which the document or text is spoken. And it changed the country for all the people of South Africa forever.
So in today’s world, in America especially, we are in a time that is pregnant with tension. Most of us are waiting for something to happen, but are somewhat frozen in time by so many questions about the meaning of life, or is it post traumatic stress. We have been hit so many times that we are on the ropes and barely standing. What’s next for us, God? Do we need to hit bottom or get totally crushed by poverty or addiction? God pull us back off the edge of the cliff; help us to see the chance for a new beginning this Kairos moment, the appointed time of your resurrection.
Today Scripture is fulfilled in our hearing. Kairos may come when we are at our lowest. It may happen when we find our power is sapped; tapped out; down the crapper. And the only power, strength, courage and guidance we have to pull off a miracle, is God’s power. It may seem impossible; but God will make a way.
It is time for our country to have a serious discussion about guns. There are too many guns on the streets of our city. It is too easy to purchase a weapon with no background check. Now, this may be one of two issues – tighten the enforcement of the regulations and laws that we have; and re-issuing the ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines. In either case, the National Rifle Association is going to lose of the grip it has on American gun owners. I saw one comment by Jim Wallis that describes the NRA as a cult group, and owning a gun is equivalent to idolatry. The public needs to take a stand on this. I don’t want to infringe on the legal rights of gun owners. I have cousins and friends who own guns. But . . . There are people right this minute who are a danger to themselves and others if they access to a gun. Period.
This is one of those moments in history when the light bulb goes on for society. A kairos moment. When has the light bulb gone on in your life? Look around at the chaos in the world; look at the suffering in people’s lives and I know you are having some struggles too. In Kairos time, God’s time, all of these things will pass, and our God will have the final say in these matters, and we will all have more of the realization that everything God does is good and for our good.
We have this time in history. It is ours. Are we going to sit and complain about all of the stupid tricks the Representatives, Senators and politicians are getting away with? Are we going to sit and complain that the rich have all the power, or are we gonna start speaking out about the corruption and graft we see. Vote these jokers out of office and vote in the people who are really going to work for all people?
Let’s look to this moment of revelation here in our community at St. Paul’s Community Church for a moment. This is a Kairos time for our church community. What are you really doing to change things? Are you confronting the evils of poverty, hunger, homelessness, youth on their own and in trouble? Is your faith strong enough to save you from despair? And can you lend a helping hand to someone in need? Or are you simply too overwhelmed to see the pain of others?
Jesus' own inaugural address is about the politics of compassion. Today, as we vote in our new council. Let us proclaim, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me." The Spirit of the Lord is upon us, and we will fulfill our call, too, as "evangelists" who preach the good news, as co-creators of programs and opportunities that bring life and healing to a harsh and cold world. The Spirit of the Lord is upon us; we are anointed to bring good news to the world that God loves so well.
There is threat in the world today. The threat is greed, selfishness and apathy. In a world where people look out only for themselves, the church becomes irrelevant, and followers of Jesus are no longer needed. But I want to advocate and fight for the church of Jesus Christ, that we are not just living in a time where greed, human fears and human prejudices rule. Tick, tock, tick, tock – don’t let hatreds and worries drive us. We are living in Kairos time, and that means that God is constantly breaking into our lives with the Good news.
Did you watch President Obama’s inaugural address? Did you find it inspiring? I did. The music, the poetry, the progressive agenda coming in the next 4 years. I was close to tears a few times. And while I don’t agree with everything he and his administration have done, I am hopeful that the majority of his programs are in the best interest of our country. And I and we and our church are a part of the movement. I am friends with progressive leaders. Next Wednesday evening I have been invited to a gathering of local Cleveland UCC pastors and national church leaders to talk with Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright. He was the retired Chicago pastor, you may recall, who officiated Barack and Michelle’s wedding. I believe Rev. Wright helped Obama formulate some of his theological tenets. I am looking forward to gaining some inspiration from this reception.
I believe President Obama has been given another chance. I was shocked that Romney did not win. I guess I was caught in negative thinking, but I am pleased that we are gaining momentum for the progressive agenda. I believe we are called to push this agenda where it matches ours: for more diversity, more compassion, more love of each other, keep the social safety net in tact so that we don’t support the least of these my brothers and sisters. Everyone has a part to play in this.
What is your ministry in this Kairos moment? We need to rediscover the purpose to which God has called us. It is not a linear purpose or mission statement, but a growing, living, breathing work in progress. We need new healing, new motivation and stronger faith and, especially prayer. there is still so much left for us to do. We have in our congregation two courageous men who got married recently. Joe and Albino went to NYC and tied knot. I want to honor their commitment to each other and I believe God blesses their union, even if the state and many people still don’t understand the love that two gay men share. I mean, lets face it, Joe and Albino want to stay together for their whole lives. I know couples, men and women, who cant stay married for more than a few months. Joe and Albino are teaching us about integrity and passion in their marriage. In their situation, we look to the Holy Spirit to guide us because Scriptures doesn’t have the language to support this kind of relationship. 2000- plus years have passed since the Bible tried to regulate how we form families. There are new purposes for Christians now-a-days. Joe and Albino serve a higher purpose by taking this courageous step in a state that is hostile to gay couples. They have brought their beliefs back to church and they are helping us live better lives. And I believe they are inviting us to share their joy and the spirit of grace. I believe we are blessed by their membership in our church.
And so we go back to the beginning, all the way to before God created life. And if you look back millions of years, you just might be able to imagine that God will still be creating heavens and earth and all its inhabitants for millions of years to come. God blesses us with beauty, grace, committed partners, love and mercy, compassion. God is our strength in times of trouble. And God is going to make a way out of no way.
So let us re-ignite our passion for serving God. Let us re-forge the community of God in this church on West 45th and Franklin; let us re-embrace excluded, the voiceless, the deprived, the discounted and let’s place them at the center of our community. That is where we find God. After all this is God’s time. God liberates us; God heals us; God forgives us; we are the Beloved and we are called to re-invigorate our ministry and mission through St Paul’s Community Church.