Apple is coming out with a new watch that is intended to make the watch accomplish so much more than just tell us the time. What do you want to know when you look at your watch, a clock, or the sun in the sky? I know I am seeking more than just an understanding of what hour, minute, and second it is at that particular time. When I look at my watch, I am often trying to remember what moment is coming up next. Am I late to pick up the kids? Are the Red Wings about to play? Do I have enough time to leave the office to go for a run around Kensington? What opportunity is next? What have I missed?
The ancient Greeks used two words to understand time. Chronos and Kairos. Chronos refers to the the sequential character of time. Kairos refers to the opportunity of a moment. Kairos is used to describe time 81 times in the New Testament. Time in the New Testament usually does not refer to simply a specific moment of time but rather a season or moment of opportunity when God has entered into our world to show us eternity.
When someone asks me what time the services are at St. Paul Lutheran Church, I quickly answer on Sunday morning at 8:30am and 11am. I also find myself thinking that simply offering a time of day is not enough of an answer. Worship in the Church reveals the promises of God. I do not find our worship services defined only by the time of the service, although are two services do have different styles of music. Sometimes I will think of people as the 8:30 crowd or the 11 o’clock crowd. In the midst of the divisions of services and styles, I hope the time of day does not define our worship service. In the Christian church the worship service is defined by finding ourselves at the appointed moments when God’s promises are delivered to us in the Word and the Sacrament.
On the first day of the week we regularly gather to receive the good news of Jesus. The theme for each week at the congregation I serve is developed by using the Christian calendar. Every year we rehearse and realize the reality of the promises of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Year by year we find our salvation in the work of Jesus Christ confirmed as we celebrated the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost. We anticipate Christ coming to reveal the kingdom of God for us. We rejoice with the angels and the shepherds that the kingdom of God comes to us in the flesh of the infant Jesus born to the Virgin Mary. We marvel at how this good news is a beacon of light for all the nations. We reflect upon our own steps and find when we have faltered the Lord continues to set His face towards Jerusalem and our cross. At Easter I am jolted away from my self-examination and find myself exclaiming, “Alleluia! Christ is risen!” Christ is not dead, He is risen just as He promised. Then between Pentecost and Advent we hear Sunday after Sunday that God has equipped us to be His people. Every year we cycle through these promises to set the pace of our Christian life just as a pacemaker supports the rhythm of a tired heart.
This year we enter the season of Lent on Wednesday, February 18. For centuries, Lent has been a time of preparation for the Church. We gather for the special occasions of worship of this time to prepare ourselves to receive the gift of Christ dying on the cross and rising from the dead in victory. We prepare ourselves to receive the gracious gift of Christ at Easter. Ash Wednesday is a meaningful time of devotion with the ashes placed on the foreheads. The ashes call to mind our mortality and dependence on God for our life and salvation. Each following Wednesday night in Lent is a time for short services that have traditionally focused on themes circling around the cross or the catechism.
Each year we make this movement towards the cross and the tomb and the resurrection. Every time I find myself singing praises to the Lord. Thank God He has found me lost and condemned in the ashes and He has made me a new creation.