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I remember the day I started thinking, really thinking, about time and its passing. It was a chilly autumn evening about 10 years ago. The kids were ready for bed and we were snuggled on the couch for a bedtime story. I still had dishes to do and was feeling a little rushed and frustrated at all the wiggling and the distractions. As I was reading (more like ploughing through) I noticed Jayden looking at my face instead of the illustrations in the Winnie the Pooh storybook. Eventually he climbed on my lap and took my face in his 6 year old hands, eyebrows furled, worried. Then came the....um....timely...words,
“Mommy, I don’t like that wrinkle on your face right there.
When you talk to God tonight maybe you can ask him to fix it.”
Bless him, he only noticed one wrinkle. We hugged and I explained that the wrinkle meant God in his Love had taken a long time to grow me up. l promised I would talk to God about it though. (for the record, I’m still having that conversation and God doesn’t seem to be eager to fix the problem). Jayden and his twin sister, Shaynah, are 16 now and sometimes that autumn evening feels like it was….. just last week.
There are two words that we say sometimes when we feel like 10 years ago happened just last week. I’m sure you know them and have moments when time passed faster than expected, when you can’t remember all that happened on the path to where you are. You didn’t notice the passing of the day and you say
Wow! Time flies!
Actually that’s three words because I added the wow, but you know what I’m saying?
It means time passed by without my noticing. Like “instantly” the birthday party was over. “Suddenly” she was 17. When we’re in a time flies kind of moment, it’s amazing to us that Sunday night is here and work starts again in the morning. We wonder out loud, things like
“How did it get to be 4:00 already?”
“I just blinked and 3 years went by.” or
“How can she possibly be graduating from high school? Wasn’t she a pony tailed, jump-roping little girl with Hello Kitty all over her bedroom walls ...um...like, just a few days ago?”
Time flies, and just like that….a moment or decade has disappeared unexpectedly, a season passed on by without my permission.
Our response to time flying sometimes involves a deer in the headlights kind of stare, a moment of solemn processing. How could I possibly have arrived at the moment I’m in so quickly, so abruptly, without realizing the journey here?
I’m guessing we’re all acquainted with the feeling. Parents feel it as we watch our five year old walk into his first kindergarten class and we get this kind of panicky sense that time cheated us. Where did the time go? How did he grow up…... so fast?
Well, of course the scientifically accurate answer to “how did he grow up so fast” is…...one minute at a time: One minute stacked upon 59 others to make one hour; one hour marching forward arm in arm with 23 more to complete a day. It’s really all just 24/7/365 math. As Dan Fogelberg sings
“It's going to be a day,
there is really no way to say ‘no’ to the morning.”
Time happens, with alarming regularity. The truth is though, when we are in those ‘time flies’ moments, our questions are not scientific in nature at all. None of us have actually lost the ability to read a clock. (though it might seem so) Nor have we forgotten how many days are in a year. When we ask “where did the time go?” we’re not genuinely concerned that the earth might have taken some trips around the sun that we didn’t know about.
What we’re really wondering is, where was I as this thing happened: this milestone, or fork in the road or end of a chapter. Not ‘where was I’ geographically, but….where was I? Where was my head, my heart, my attention, my affection, my presence? And this feeling sets in that maybe we’ve missed some important things on the road to where we are. Sometimes it’s trivial and we laugh it off, but sometimes it feels like a really big deal. Sometimes, it is a really big deal.
In the New Testament, there are two different definitions of the word “time.” The Greeks had a flair for defining and making distinctions and they introduced us to Chronos time and Kairos time. We live with both of them in our world.
Chronos time, used 54 times in the New Testament, is what we usually think of when we talk about time. Tick moves on to tock and then forward again to the next tick. Minutes form hours which turn into days and weeks and years. It's 6:00 and time for dinner. Chronos.
Many of us arrived at adulthood believing that our value is in our level of activity. The busier we are, the more valuable we feel, so without ever stopping to evaluate we pack our days with as much activity as possible. It’s not that this is all bad. Using time ‘productively’ is a good thing, and some of us even had Carpe Diem bumper stickers.
It’s interesting though how a hard core focus on chronos can make us miss the essence of life and Kingdom found in kairos time.
Kairos time is referred to 86 times in the New Testament, depending on who’s counting. If chronos is about keeping time and telling time, kairos is more about experiencing time, of keeping in touch with what fills the time. While chronos tells us it’s time to have dinner with the family, kairos calls us to listen to the voices around the table, and the clatter of forks on the plate; to embrace and engage the joy and the sadness and the mundane and the adventure of family. Kairos is the quality, the depth, the opportunity, the fullness and meaning of the minutes in chronos. It requires that we step off the hamster wheel and look and listen.
When Jesus calls Peter to leave his nets and follow him, he was speaking in chronos time. “Come…..now!” What happened after that was a lifetime filled with Peter learning to live in kairos, learning to notice what was going on around him, which was, it seems, a difficult journey for him. He found it hard to slow down. Hard to get out of his head. Hard to frame the moment and simply be in it. Hard to embrace the kairos time of children sitting on Jesus’ lap. I feel like I really understand Peter.
I think it would have taken him a while to learn that reading a bedtime story because it's time for bed, is not the same as reading a bedtime story with open eyes and awareness of the life in moments. Maybe he would have had to learn that even in the very real pressures of dirty dishes and the relentless ticking of the chronos clock, the greatest bedtime story gift is in choosing to be present with the blessings of bare toes and sneezes and cracker crumbs on the couch, of wiggling elbow and knees and wild imaginations.
I wonder if it’s possible to go through this life completely aware that we’re doing so. Is it possible to be fully alive and present to every, every moment? I don’t know. I’m guessing that as a parent, a friend, a sister, a minister, an employee, I will constantly be learning to live in kairos - the kind of time that gives us a front row seat to God’s kingdom and how He works. When Jesus spoke to those “who have ears to hear” in Matthew 11:15, he was saying “pay attention to what is goin on!” Eyes to see. Ears to hear.
My meditation and prayer going into the holiday season this year is to be present, to live more in kairos; to hear the prophets and the poetry and the parables of scripture that invite us to stop. And listen. Does Jesus' story of the woman who turned her house upside down to find a lost coin come to my mind and form my faith when I finally find my lost set of keys?
If we listen to scripture and listen to our lives, and if we have eyes to see, God’s kairos is showing us his Kingdom, always and in mind blowing ways actually.
I’m praying to do more stopping this season, to see the faces and hear the stories around me; to let moments be framed and see God and share God in all of this intricate, painful, glorious life.
Join me? It seems that living in kairos is God’s perfect antidote for time flying.
What was the tear gently rolling down his face, his end in sight, unless...
There was no unless, he knew—He knew,
not from those moments
when the Divine presses in;
a hint of memory from within the text, Dejavue.
Had he been in like place before?
The Words a memory of ancient
witnesses to his
yet he could taste the Manna,
the heat of the desert air,
feel the chaos swirling around
from the poets
Liturgy of Beginnings—
All seemed as though he was there,
but how could that be?
If only—his eyes cast about upon the scene
“Hosanna” they sang.
His sadness deepened.
It was not the Macabbean
reign he would usher in,
a fools errand
hidden from the masses it seemed.
His eyes glancing up,
near the crest of the hill,
a lone Roman soldier sat atop his steed,
his uniform in full array,
...in honor to the day?
No! Jesus knew full well,
their purpose in full view.
We may wave our palm branches
celebrating another day
when the rebellion ruled for a season,
but sword would not be tolerated,
Rome’s might would come in
like a flood,
ushering in the day of sorrows for
women suckling their young—
so, he had urged them.
“God’s Kingdom does not come
as men and their wives
My Pappa’s Kingdom is
nearer than your next breath.”
But they had not heard.
A foul of a donkey chosen,
his purpose to make clear.
Yet no one, not even his closest friends
understood what he knew.
From the prophets
own wisdom he knew.
From Isaiah!s vision of the Vineyard’s
bitter fruit, he knew.
The One who would come
would suffer the night,
the arrogant triumph
of the zealots plea,
someone would pay the price,
human excesses to meet;
the arrogant look,
the wages of workers suppressed,
the poor and diseased having
no place to call home.
These were the sins which
caught his Fathers eye
and for which The Son
must suffer and die!
But why? His heart alone knew.
It was the cup of sins wrath, not God’s.
Somehow Jesus knew that his Papa
and The Spirit that shadowed
would be forever changed.
In the Son of man’s dying,
Papa and their Spirit would know
the lonely center of death’s darkness,
like the grapes of bitter fruit
producing in time only the bite,
void of sweetness;
Celebrating The Kings Coming
in the sweet love of a groom
for his beloved, a party delayed.
All this Jesus knew from his observations
of the human condition,
his own and those he knew;
and from The Word of Moses
and the prophets given—
his suffering One on whom the wounds
of humanity’s guilt and
compulsions have grown.
The scene even now unfolding
he had witnessed before,
Zechariah’s cup trembling,
riding on a donkey,
the sign of peace,
purchased it would seem
by looking upon the One
whose life all Jerusalem would mourn.
What Jesus could not have known?
...except by inferring from
within the veil of memories
breaking in on his
like a painting to life would
come—was that he,
more than Daniel’s Son of man,
whose birth was known,
He, The Living Word of timeless past,
Eternal Son of his Father,
the implications too vast.
“O God,” on his lips were now formed,
The garden of Gethsemane now passing—
whose very name betrayed
the crushing of grapes
and into wine were made,
the crowd in frenzy now pushing
this peace-filled prophet
to fulfill their hopes and dreams,
not knowing, what the cup of God’s love
Ezekiel’s promise was the prize,
the reason to endure,
for somehow, in this passion,
Israel would be renewed,
for God Alone was acting to fill
the darkness of idolatry,
of unfaithful love proclaimed;
to gather in from all time,
eternity past and future unfolding,
to restore all who in arrogance ruled—
the poor, their needs unmet.
Ezekiel’s promise that God
would come this way
and forgive the world as one,
no longer distanced by sin,
sold as they were in slavery,
even Sodom and Samaria
The Kingdom of God is coming,
is even now breaking in;
when God no longer distant
had tasted the death inside
all our sin.
“Leave them alone” was all This
Son of man had said.
The Sadducees and Roman cohorts
will stumble and one day fall;
“only God’s will remain,
on earth as it is in heaven,
the rocks and hills proclaim.
“So leave them to their frenzy”
for I know the political score.
“Do not fear your power be lost!”
Too late for that.
“Do you not see that
Sodom and Samaria
As daughters of Israel renewed.
Their shame reduced to ashes
as Israel’s is, for;
I AM HAS COME TO SUFFER,”
as Isaiah's promised
day has come.
I lay down before your power
to surrender as only love can do:
when at last you
embrace this moment,
Shalom shall of chaos, be reborn!”
Thoughts from reflecting The Un-Triumphal Entry
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me."
The summer between my fifth and sixth grade years there was a scripture memory
contest for kids at the Church of the Nazarene in Randle, Washington. The prize for the
winner was a whole table full of games and candy. So, for the love of candy, I began a
very close relationship with my black leather King James Bible that my parents had
given me for Christmas when I was 7. I also had, close by, my paperback New
Testament, titled “Reach Out”, which was a 1970’s TLB paraphrase of the Bible that
helped me understand what in the world King James was actually talking about. I did
win the contest but the bigger win was that afterward, while eating all the Red Vines and Junior Mints, I also continued reading my Bible.
One of my favorite books that summer was the Gospel of John. It made sense to me. I
saw Jesus when I read John and reading made me want to know Jesus more. John still
helps me see the heart of God.
As I grew into young adult years though, I somehow slid into reading scripture mostly
with my head and less with my heart; more to know principles, like I was out to prove
something, fix something, or win a contest again, and less to know Jesus. Looking
today at this verse from John 14 I’m more convinced than ever that I had it right that
summer as a sixth grader. Know Jesus.
A couple of things seem clear to me in John 14:1. The first is that the very words “do
not let” point to a choice that is apparently ours to make. We can let our hearts be
troubled or not let our hearts be troubled.
I think the idea that we can simply “not let” trouble in is initially kind of hard to get one’s mind around. At least it is for me. Due to the noise and pace of life, or our own
patterns of processing pain, or a thousand other reasons, the
thought that I can choose to not allow my heart to be troubled doesn’t naturally seem to factor into the equation. More often we seem to mindlessly feel at the whim of whatever troubled winds are blowing, believing stress is human and inevitable and there’s really no choice in the matter.
Maybe we just don’t think that God is that good.
Well, stress and trouble certainly are human, and inevitable. Yet, Jesus is clear:
"Do not let your hearts be troubled."
The Message Bible phrases Jesus’ words this way:
“Don’t let this throw you.”
A second thing that drew me into this verse this week is the context in which John
places it. A quick walk through preceding chapters shows us that Jesus wasn’t in some
la-la sunny meadow fantasyland denying that there will ever be any really difficult
mountains for us all to climb. He was more like standing in a blizzard on the side of Mt.
Everest saying “This. Even this...don’t let it throw you. Trust God. Trust me.”
The “this” for Jesus was unimaginable pain and heartache. In chapters 12 and 13 of
John Jesus knows his message and his life will be ridiculed and rejected by his
community and that he will be sent to a horrific, violent death. His closest friends will not only betray him, but will disown him. Huge changes, heartbreak of the deepest kind, violent physical and spiritual pain….it was a tsunami of unthinkable heartache.
And in the midst of that, Jesus says, “don’t let your heart be troubled.” He’s already
living what it is he’s inviting us into.
Trouble weighed on Jesus’ heart just like it weighs on yours and mine. In John 13:21 he
was “troubled in spirit” as he told his disciples that one of them would betray him. How
could he not be? Clearly Jesus wasn’t suggesting in John 14:1 that we just don’t get
upset about things. Or that we ignore depression. Or that we shame ourselves when
we feel afraid.
So if Jesus knows that heartache is a given, and even to be embraced, what exactly is
he asking of us when he tells us to not let our hearts be troubled?
Maybe what Jesus knew, and was pointing Peter and the others to, what shaped him
and directed him, was simply this:
He knew he was loved by his Father.
And exactly because of his unity with the Father, Jesus could be in troubling times
without the troubling times being in him. He could be in the raging storm of uncertainty without the storm defining or directing him. And he wants the disciples to know that this is true for them, for us, as well.
“I have told you these things so that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have trouble. But be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world. ”
For those of us that were blessed to be raised in a home with parents that took good
care of us, can you remember that sense of never worrying about much because there
was an inner knowledge that whatever it was, mom and/or dad would take care of it?
And you lived with a free heart. If that wasn’t you, what child have you known that this is true for?
Not that there was never a fear, but there was an internal assurance as a child that
dwarfed fear. All concerns were put in their place within the context of the relationship
we had with the ones taking care of us. As kids we rested, relatively worry free, exactly
because we had faith in our parents (grandparents, big brother’s, Uncle’s, Aunt’s) Love
It is “in me”, Jesus says, that we embrace the confidence and assurance that lets us
find our feet in troubled times. “Do not let your hearts be troubled” is not a mandate to
will away hardship, or engage in more positive thinking. It’s not a curriculum for a new
self-help plan. All of those things may have their place, but this is an invitation to
relationship, and a reminder that our protection and peace are…. In Him.
In another place, Jesus tells his disciples that they, we, need to rediscover faith like a
child and let it possess us in order to be in God’s Kingdom. He wasn’t talking about
how to get to heaven. He was talking about how to have heaven on earth: how to live,
with full presence and even joy, through rain and shine, here in this life. Faith like a child in the One Father who is caring for us casts out the fear that cripples our capacity to live, care and grow. Faith like a child casts out the fear that steals peace.
Especially during these days of Covid-19 when, for some, stresses we never would
have imagined threaten things held dear, the very good news is that it’s exactly into
troubled times that Jesus speaks John 14:1.
My sixth grade self, searching to know Jesus, set an example for me this week. I hope
she can encourage you too.
Pick up the Gospel of John. Hang out with Jesus and let him form you from the inside
out through the Father’s great unending Love for you. And if you’re one that is already
spending time there, help someone else!
Our relationship with Jesus, in Jesus, will not erase all traces of grief or fear, because
fear is not the enemy. Attempting to walk alone outside of the communion we were
made for, that is the enemy. We were made to be with each other, in him. And in him,
all of our fears bow to the power of this defining Love. Do not let your hearts be
Talk to Jesus, listen to him, and reach out to His Body, your faith community. We really
really do need each other!
Here is what happened when my much loved son-in-law Ben, former atheist forever
changed by Jesus, was hanging out with Jesus last week. I asked him if I could share
this song with you. Maybe I can share the recording of it next time:
I Stand With You
I feel no anxiety, when I wait for you
I see no sign for me, but I look to you
I hear no company, still I pray to you
I know you stand for me, and I stand with you
I know you stand for me, and I stand with you
I know you stand for me, and I stand with you
- Benjamin Boice
Don’t let this throw you, loved one.
God is with you. He is your Peace.
I’m praying we all continue to find ourselves in him this week.
Much love to all,