Sermon by Pastor Ben Cieslik
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ, grace and peace to you from our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.
Well here we are again. Back at it. The brass is gone. The flowers and the decorations are a little more understated. Many of us no doubt have a little bit of a ham hangover. If there’s leftovers in your fridge I wouldn’t recommend eating it anymore.
Easter is over.
It’s back to business as usual, normal routines, weekly patterns, ordinary life. And that’s okay. It’s good even. None of us can perpetually life live turned up to 11. As human beings we don’t have the capacity for that kind of existence, it’s not practical or possible. Frankly it would start to lose its luster. Brass every week, no offense to you trumpeters out there, loses a bit of its appeal. Every day, pure adulterated excitement just becomes exhausting. Anyone ever feel like they needed a vacation from their vacation?
And yet, there are moments/events in this world that are life altering. Your first child. Then your second. Your wedding day. The death of a loved one. The discovery of a deep passion. There are things that change forever how we engage the world around, it might happen in the blink of an eye but as a result you are forever different.
At the risk of stating the obvious Easter is such an event. No, I don’t mean last Sunday, though it was pretty great. I mean the Easter, the day which the tomb stood forever empty. The day that through the death and resurrection of Jesus, God defeated the power of death and gave you a share in the divine life forever.
This has the power to change you. In fact it has changed you, you now belong to God. Irrespective of what you have done, who you are, or the choices that you have made, because of the Easter event, God has taken into God’s own self all that separates you from God and has given to you everything that belongs to God.
It’s cool stuff. It’s an amazing promise. But it’s really difficult to get your head around.
So over the next few weeks we’re going to be thinking together about how we can start to live into the reality of Easter. We’re going to try and help one another see and appreciate how the extraordinary Easter promise impinges on the ordinary day to day existence of each of us.
This week we take a look at worship.
It’s likely that we each have different reasons for showing up here week after week to spend 50 some minutes together. For some it’s the community. For others it’s not doubt the music. For a few strange individuals out there it’s to hear what I have to say. Still for others it’s simply what you do and have done for many years. These are all incredibly valid reasons. But I want to submit that there’s maybe one that supersedes the others, or that the others at their best contribute to this one.
The greek language has two words for time, chronos and kairos. Chronos refers to chronological or sequential time, it’s the marking of one moment to the next. Today is Sunday tomorrow is Monday. Chronos is kind of like those moments in your life where you watch the time tick by one minute after the next. The last few minutes of school before summer vacation. Or waiting for a plane to take off when you’re number 7 in the runway line up. It’s not that chronos is boring, it’s just sequential moving from one period of time to the next – to the next – to the next.
Kairos on the other hand is time out of time. It’s salient moment, a pregnant pause, a time filled with purpose, potential and significance.
In theological terms, kairos is God’s time.
Our brothers and sisters in the Eastern Orthodox church begin many of their worship services, what they call the divine liturgy, with the deacon addressing the priest with these words, “It is time for the Lord to act.”
Worship is a kairos moment, a moment where enter into a different time, God’s time, a time when the Lord acts. When we gather together here on Sunday morning/Sunday evening we are confident in God’s presence among us because God has promised to show up, God has promised to be here in the bread and the wine, God has promised to be here in the water and the word. God had made those commitments to us and we trust God to be faithful to God’s word.
Here in this place, when we’re together, God acts decisively on our behalf, God looks at you and me and says to us that we are God’s beloved, that we belong to God.
In these kairos moments, when we enter into God’s time, it changes us. We become a part of something else, we become a part of someone else.
That’s what the Apostle Paul is writing to remind the church at Corinth in todays reading from 1 Corinthians.
In the first century, when you went to a house party, there were assigned seats. The honored guests, the influential folks got to sit (or more accurately lounge) around the table. They ate the best food and had the best wine. The other guests, people of lower status or less importance kind of stood around the table and got a second class kind of meal. They were all at the same party, but had a very different experience.
The early church didn’t meet in places like this, they met in people’s homes and worship took place around a meal, a meal in which they’d share the Lord’s supper. Only in Corinth the common practices of the world they lived in were shaping the way they worshipped instead of the life changing presence of Jesus shaping the way they lived.
Worship and particularly the sacraments point to a different reality, a holy reality. It’s why Paul ends our reading today by saying, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”
What happens when we are together in worship changes how we live in the world. Kairotic moments, time when we enter into God’s time, shapes how we live in the chronological world, it influences how we put one foot in front of another.
One of my former professors in seminary used to tell a story about a couple in the congregation he served earlier in his career.
He said they, “explained to me how important church had become for them. Whenever one of them could not make it – if, for instance, of their children was sick – they’d do a quick two-minute drill to check in on the week they’d just been through and the week about to come to determine, as they said, “who needed church more.” “Church is what helps us make sense of our lives,” they explained, “it’s that pick-me-up that connects us with God and our calling and sends us back into the week.”
Worship is for you. Not in the sense that you get to pick your favorite hymns and determine which liturgical pieces we do or what I say, though I’m sure some days that might be nice. No, worship is for you in the sense that when we are together, when God shows up, something happens that changes us, remakes us, helps us to be different, to be God’s people out there – for all the other days and hours of the week.
Worship is live giving.
Now if you don’t experience that. Or it happens too infrequently. Come talk to one of the pastors, we’re in this together. God has promised to be here, and we don’t want to get in the way of that. So let us know what’s happening with you.
The promise stands, today, God has drawn near to you once again, so that you might be a sign of God’s life and love in all that you do.