Opening Kairos Windows for Our Church and the World

Len Delony1We are into the second week of Lent (the whole season lasts 40 days . . . plus six Sundays).

But, there is a very different kind of time that is happening all around us as we move through the chronological time that we measure with our clocks and calendars.

The ancient Greeks called this time Kairos.

Kairos has been referred to as “the time when God acts,” “a time in the purpose of God,” and “a time of crisis that can become an opportunity.”

But how do we check Kairos time?  

It would be nice if we could put a Kairos watch on our wrist next to our Chronos watch . . . or have some kind of Kairos app on our phone.

But it’s not that easy. In fact, it is hard, counter-cultural work.

But paradoxically, it is also very simple. When we learn to let go of our efforts to be in control, and instead listen to the depths in our soul and the souls of those around us, we can witness and welcome the gift that is unfolding in the moment. This is about opening up windows to the wisdom of the Spirit, and the mystery in the moment. It means we have to be honest with ourselves (sometimes painfully), and vulnerable before God. We need to be willing to listen deeply to others (with ears of the heart) and see beyond our blindness (in that amazing, saving grace.) Miraculously, this can become a bit like surfing waves of God’s grace with a welcoming “yes, and” rhythm as “all things work together for good” as we follow God’s Way of perfect love (Romans 8:28).

I am coming to believe that God is always active in our lives . . . The problem is that we are mostly distracted in our own fears and “fight or flight” efforts to be “in control.” If Kairos time is also going on in the midst of the time that we measure with our clocks and calendars, how do we open ourselves to experience God-with-us in this moment that can connect us with eternity, offering grace that heals and makes things whole?

In a busy culture, how can we discover and trust this mysterious, saving power? What can help us, as the scriptures say, have “ears that hear and eyes that see” (Proverbs 20:12 and Matthew 13:9)?

This Sunday we will have a special opportunity to share with others in a way that helps open these Kairos windows. It is a special kind of dialogue that in recent years some have experienced in our church as a “Circle of Trust.” Eight years ago, when we hosted General Conference here in Fort Worth, we began talking about “Holy Conversations.” Others more recently have been referring to “Courageous Conversations.”

Whatever you want to call it, amazing “Saving Grace” things happen when we slow down with a shared and sacred intention to listen deeply to one another in the Spirit of God’s Love.

When we gather in Room 350 and consider some of the important issues in our church and culture, we will have an opportunity to listen deeply to one another. It becomes an amazing sanctuary built on a shared covenant and trust, where the power of God’s love and compassion can become palpable.

Come join us for this special time of dialogue and “Holy Conversation” that can be a powerful part of your Lenten Journey.

Here are guidelines for our shared, prayerful intention taken from “Circle of Trust” groups we have had in our church and are growing in importance throughout the country.

Touchstones for Circles of Trust:

  • Be 100% present, extending, and presuming welcome. Set aside the usual distractions of things undone from yesterday, things to do tomorrow. Bring all of yourself to the work. We all learn most effectively in spaces that welcome us. Welcome others to this place and this work, and presume that you are welcomed.
  • Listen deeply. Listen intently to what is said; listen to the feelings beneath the words. “To ‘listen’ another’s soul into life, into a condition of disclosure and discovery, may be almost the greatest service that any human being ever performs for another” (Writer Douglas Steere). Listen to yourself also. Strive to achieve a balance between listening and reflecting, speaking and acting.
  • Always by invitation. It is never “share or die.” You will be invited to share in pairs, small groups, and in the large group. The invitation is exactly that. You will determine the extent to which you want to participate in our discussions and activities.
  • No fixing. Each of us is here to discover our own truths, to listen to our own inner teacher, to take our own inner journey. We are not here to set someone else straight, or to help right another’s wrong, to “fix” or “correct” what we perceive as broken or incorrect in another member of the group.
  • Suspend judgment. Set aside your judgments. By creating a space between judgments and reactions, we can listen to the other, and to ourselves, more fully, and thus our perspectives, decisions, and actions are more informed.
  • Identify assumptions. Our assumptions are usually invisible to us, yet they under-gird our worldview, our decisions, and our actions. By identifying our assumptions, we can then set them aside and open our viewpoints to greater possibilities.
  • Speak your truth. Say what is in your heart, trusting that your voice will be heard and your contribution respected. Your truth may be different from, even the opposite of, what another in the circle has said. Speaking your truth is not debating with, or correcting, or interpreting what another has said. Own your truth by speaking only for yourself, using “I” statements.
  • Respect silence. Silence is a rare gift in our busy world. After you or someone else has spoken, take time to reflect and fully listen, without immediately filling the space with words.
  • Maintain confidentiality. Create a safe space by respecting the confidential nature and content of discussions in the circle. What is said in the circle, remains there.
  • When things get difficult, turn to wonder. If you find yourself disagreeing with another, becoming judgmental, shutting down in defense, try turning to wonder: “I wonder what brought her to this place?” “I wonder what my reaction teaches me?” or “I wonder what he’s feeling right now?”

(Adapted from “Hidden Wholeness” by Parker Palm)

Also, here is a podcast that many of us heard recently. It’s amazing how modern science is pointing us toward ancient, spiritual wisdom.

Pay attention. As we journey through this season together, there are many wonderful opportunities for worship, prayer, study, and holy conversation. Experience the transforming freedom as you look through open Kairos windows and discover blessings in each moment.

Len

P.S. The picture in the blog last week is from the Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage across northern Spain. It began in the 1200s, but the Emmaus Community has its roots from a revival of this pilgrimage that began in the 1940s. Beka and I went along the pilgrimage in our VW Camping bus in 1995.

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