Monday, December 14, 2015

Mondays with Martin: Kairos Time

One day last week on Facebook a friend tagged me in a post recalling something I said about kairos time in a sermon more than a decade ago. It wasn't so much the content (which he certainly didn't recall) but, rather, the concept of moments in the roiling stream of chronos when the future hangs in the balance.
In the New Testament, kairos is the Greek behind "the fullness of time," and it is used to name the moments when God's purposes in the world are fulfilled.
There's a quote on the wall of the MLK memorial that names the stakes:
"The measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy." In other words, we measure ourselves by where we stand in kairos moments.
We are living in just such a time, and we stand to be measured with great scrutiny by those who come after us. If you are paying attention, these are not days of comfort and convenience. That's true even if you're not paying attention.
Willful ignorance is possible, but blissful ignorance is not. Ignorance will not bring comfort when it comes to climate change, to gun violence, to terrorism, to racism, or to so many other challenges that we face. You may choose to live in ignorance and denial, but when the sea levels rise your Miami Beach mansion will still be under water. You may choose to live in ignorance and denial, but you can be victimized by random gun violence at the movies, or the all, or the middle of the street in the middle of the afternoon. You may choose to live in ignorance and denial, but if you travel by air you know that you cannot choose comfort and convenience in the age of terror.
If we choose to live in ignorance and denial we choose the mark by which we will be measured, and we will fall far short of it. Comfort and convenience are no longer on the table. We live in a time of challenge and controversy.  If we choose thoughtful engagement we do not guarantee the outcomes that we desire, but thoughtful engagement with the challenges of the present time is the only way we can possible achieve such outcomes.
If we want a future in which we are no longer threatening death to the only planet that we know of that supports life, we must thoughtfully engage the challenge of climate change, and we must move rapidly away from our reliance on fossil fuels. This much is clear.
If we want a future in which we are no longer threatened by random gun violence, we must thoughtfully engage the issue, and we must pass laws that regulate the gun market and eliminate easy individual consumer access to weapons designed for warfare.
If we want a future in which we are no longer subject to significant threats from terrorists, we must thoughtfully engage global diplomacy and economics, and recognize that the strategy we have pursued for the past 15 years has increased both the number and influence of terrorists.
If we want a future in which we are not riven by racism we must thoughtfully engage our own history.
Where we stand in the present moment will be how we are measured by future generations -- if there are future generations to measure us.