Timing is Everything
There is nothing quite like the feeling of being in the right place at the right time. At that moment when everything lines up, we can experience a vast array of emotion. We can feel joy, strength, peace, confidence, and vindication just to name a few. Whether these represent only fleeting moments or the arrival at a destination at the end of a long journey, these moments are a profound gift. Spiritually speaking we can describe these as the moments when God shows up. The mystics have also described moments like this as the experience of having the distance between us and God become thinner, and in some cases even transparent. What a truly extraordinary experience it is to see God face to face. While these moments may be more fleeting, because God continues to pour out God’s presence in our life, they can be more frequent.
Learning to Tell Time
In the days before digital time keeping, we all needed to learn how to tell time. We need to know the difference between the big hand and the little hand. Unless the time piece had the hash marks to denote each minute and had a hand to mark off each second, time telling could be pretty imprecise. It wasn’t uncommon to hear…’it’s about quarter to ‘. The youngest generations today might not know how to interpret that. Today, time telling is more precise, even to the second. In the time of smart phones and smart watches, pretty much everyone can be on the exact same time. The Greeks have a way to talk about this type of time: Chronos. Tick tock, time marches on, uniformly and predictably. Our faith has introduced us to a different kind of telling time: Kairos. This is God’s time. This is a way to mark those moments when God shows up, or more precisely, the time that we notice that God has shown up. While we might not always understand the timing or judge it to be early or late, these are the moments that are pregnant with possibilities for life and faith.
How Do We Recognize Kairos
Learning to recognize the presence of God, the movement of the Spirit, in our life and world is proportional to how open we are and the character of our relationship with God. This idea was something that came home to John Wesley at a critical point in his ministry. After experience of failure and the soul searching that followed, Wesley had one of those Kairos moments. He recorded in his journal that he felt his heart strangely warmed and that he could indeed trust God and the promises revealed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. He spent the rest of his ministry teaching, leading and cultivating individual and community practices that would help his contemporaries tune their lives and hearts to the presence of God. The practices of prayer, worship, attending to communion, study, fellowship and most of all service to all became the means of experiencing and understanding God’s deep, unmerited love for us. This is the very definition of Grace. These same practices will help us recognize Kairos in our life. They will help us find our way through all the changes that the COVID 19 pandemic has brought to us. This Sunday, as we celebrate our heritage, on the very day Wesley felt his heart warmed, let us also commit ourselves to the faith practices that will carry us forward.