The second reading for this 14th Sunday after Pentecost is Romans 13:8-15. It contains the following appeal from the Apostle:
11 Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; 12 the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; 13 let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
How often have we heard that these are unprecedented times? And how often have we heard the urgent appeal that we had better act fast or we will lose the moment—or we will lose our nation?
And now, when we are shown cell phone footage of violent confrontations in the streets just about every day, we might well think it’s high time we turn from the head to the heart—we must fight fire with fire.
That’s what kind of time we are living through!
But the Apostle calls out to us that we are living in an eternal now. The now—the urgent time—the opportune time (in Greek, kairos) has come upon us.
Paul may have thought it was temporally upon his generation. The Christ would return and the New Age begin soon. But a couple thousand years have passed and we still wait for that fulcrum moment.
But the kairos moment Paul wrote about was not that coming of Christ. It was the long, eternal now of the time of awakening in preparation for that coming.
So, yes, the pandemic, the loss of jobs, the protests and violent confrontations, and the upcoming elections, they have piled up on us to make this an unprecedented time in the long time-line of history the Greeks called the kronos-time. But there is still just one kairos—one opportunity for us—one eternal now for awakening.
Now is not the time for pure gut feelings to be unleashed. Now is not the time to fight the fire of outrage with more of the same. Now is not the time for turning up the heat and getting drunk on retribution and winning arguments. All those things just feed the darkness. They dull our senses. They make us immune to compromise, mutual respect, and understanding. Now is the time for the light of God’s new day to dawn in our hearts, even if it is way before it dawns on our brothers and sisters.
Of course to awaken we must get off our couches, get out of our comfort zones, dig our way out of apathy, communal forgetfulness, cold resentments, lame excuses and blaming. It’s time to take responsibility for this kairos opportunity. It’s time to get moving.
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