There is an often-overlooked scripture that recounts the final instructions of Jesus to the disciples before he ascends to heaven. Luke tells the story both in the final chapter of Luke and in the first chapter of Acts: “While he was in their company, he told them not to leave Jerusalem. ‘You must wait,’ he said, ‘for the promise made by my Father, about which you have heard me speak.” (Acts 1: 4, New English Version).
The Bible is, for the most part, full of active verbs. Abraham and Sarah are told to “go” to a new land. Moses is told to “go” back to Egypt, and then on a journey to the Promised Land. Mary and Joseph must “go” on a journey before the baby Jesus is born. The Bible is full of these journey stories. And so it is important to pay attention when Jesus tells the disciples to stay in Jerusalem and wait for God’s power to come upon them. We understand the importance of this final instruction from Jesus when we read, in Acts 2, about the Pentecost moment that gave birth to the church and changed the world forever. Jesus made it clear to the disciples that they should not act prematurely or impulsively, but that waiting and praying would be the precedent for the birth of the church.
It may be that waiting is the hardest work we do as humans: waiting for the baby to be born, waiting for the report from the doctor, waiting while the outcome of the marriage is unknown, waiting for the final passage of a loved one from this life into the next. We often describe these times of waiting as “excruciating” or “unbearable,” and they feel that way precisely because we are not in control. These are what we call Kairos moments as opposed to Chronos moments. Chronos is how humans measure time. Kairos is how God chooses the right or most opportune time. Waiting for God’s time is hard work, but it is some of the most important work we do.
Is it possible that you are living in a Kairos moment right now, and that God is calling you to be patient and prayerful rather than reactive and impulsive? Is it possible that the church is in a Kairos moment, and that God is urging us to “wait” for the power that comes from on high? Is it possible that, as we approach our celebration of Pentecost on June 9th, God has bigger and better plans than the ones we have?
Rev. Don Underwood