When the Pharisees and Sadducees tried to test Jesus in Matthew 16, they asked him for a sign from heaven. He answered by critiquing them: “You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.” The pious wanted predictability so they could control their lives. Jesus offered a promise of Kairos time. Right in their midst they could see heaven’s Son if they believed. He was the only sign they needed, but their lives were distracted by everything else pressing against them. The Messiah had come and set up a whole new way to view the times.
In his sermon “The Church and the Kingdom,” Giorgio Agamben says that we live in Messianic time, the time of the Messiah’s presence on earth while we anticipate his return as Lord. Our challenge is to be the church, to interpret for our world that Christ is in charge. God doesn’t offer us predictability; he promises hope, peace, joy, and love in a crucified, risen baby born in a Bethlehem manger. As we follow him, we take note of the places around us where Christ fulfills what he promised in Matthew 28:20: “Lo, I am with you always to the very end of the age.”
We’ve scheduled plenty of events on the church calendar for us to take notes. By delivering poinsettias, welcoming guests at Winter Festival, Ring[ing] in the Season with handbells, dressing up at Breakfast in Bethlehem, and participating in the musical Time for Christmas, we have scheduled time to serve and worship. Each Sunday morning, I’ll be preaching on the moments where Kairos and chronos (God’s movement and our schedule) press each other in scripture.
Advent, however, becomes a Kairos season when we take note of what we see and hear as the early Church did. They had the discipline to write where they saw Christ at work no matter where they were located. Their notes formed the background information that makes up the New Testament today. Although we’d never attempt to write anything biblical, taking notes on Christ’s presence is a Christian discipline. I keep a small book in my back pocket. I write down these Kairos moments, places where God’s presence intersects my schedule. These sorts of things happen all the time, but rarely am I awake enough to pay attention. I have to train my mind to see these things and record them so I don’t forget them. It can be as simple as a conversation in a hallway, a request for prayer, or a chance to serve someone less fortunate. Kairos moments happen in the office when a co-worker needs time to talk, or when a neighbor has a question at the bus stop.
By recording Christ’s presence around you this month, you will be the people against whom Jesus said, “The gates of hell will not prevail.” You will be the ones who understand the signs of the times. You will be the church.