How significant is a 10th anniversary? For a rising fifth grader, the passage marks a turn into "double digits," top of the school, safety patrol. For parents, 10 years goes by "way too fast." We're over halfway finished with school but only at the beginning of an education. For a nation, 10 years seems like just yesterday when terrorists attacked our country and killed nearly 3,000 people. For our church, 10 years ago marked the beginning of a new era of worship.
September is filled with a range of emotions, nostalgia, patriotism, and reflection. It's the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and the 10th anniversary of First Community. One way to mark the occasion is to remember dates, times, and places in chronos time. We remember September 11, 2001; we recall the beginning of First Community 10 years ago the Sunday before September 11. All of us remember "where we were."
These are not just dates on a calendar. These occasions invite us to measure another way that time passes, out of the chronological schedule of dates, times, and places through the door of kairos time. Kairos is marked by seasons and generations. Here time is measured not by dates on a calendar but by differences in behavior. We pick up on it occasionally in our way of describing things that happen to us: "It seemed just like yesterday." "My, look how you've grown." "I don't remember when all this started, but my life has never been the same since." Kairos happens in nature all the time; a seed is planted and grows when "the time is right." The fruit is ready to be picked when it ripens. We don't know precisely when, but we believe it will happen.
Kairos time is, as you can imagine, God's way of marking time. The biblical writers describe life that is measured by passing seasons, ripening fig trees, growing yeast, and fulfilling promises. None of them have dates on a calendar, but all of them offer the chance to remember, reflect, hope, believe, and obey.
The year 2001 was a kairos moment for First Baptist. We changed the way we worship and began First Community that is still growing, evolving, and changing. Like a fifth grader, this seed planted was a promise to current and future generations that our worship will change and adapt as necessary to call people to worship a living God. We do not know yet the fulfillment of the promise, but First Community continues to blossom. As people in Knoxville after 9/11, we changed the way we live. Whether through security lines at the airport, threat levels at Oak Ridge, or economic turbulence, we think about and live in light of our fears in some way every day. We do not yet know the full legacy of these terrible days. We do know, however, that our lives are much different than they were 10 years ago.
The same choices that confronted us 10 years ago are still the decisions we see today. We face a mix of worship and fear, of hope and anxiety, of promise and threat. We cannot live in a world without either one. This is why we so desperately need the grace of the gospel. The good news is that our world or our church did not change forever 10 years ago. It changed permanently 2,000 years ago. Jesus Christ entered a world deeply afraid and countered with the gift of good news in the ultimate kairos event. When confronted with the life or death, Jesus taught how to walk the path of worship, obedience, forgiveness, and hope. The promise that began with his birth, death, and resurrection has not yet been fulfilled . He will come again in the fullness of time. That promise helps us recognize that even though our world and our church are different than they were 10 years ago, his gospel makes it possible for life to never be the same.
This September, we have a chance to live out this gospel. We celebrate First Community on September 4 with a churchwide breakfast at 8:00 a.m. We remember lives lost and first responders who sacrifice during the Voices of Lee concert on September 11. We break ground on a new Habitat House and dedicate the construction materials in worship on September 18. Worship, Remembrance, Service: the ways we grow into another kairos moment.