TIME - A SERMON ON 1 CORINTHIANS 7:29-31 AND MARK 1:14-20 - BY REV. LANCE SCHMITZ, ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH
1 Corinthians 7:29-31 I mean, brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no possessions, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.
Mark 1:14-20 After John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.
Have you ever heard song lyrics that drove you crazy or gets stuck in your head? For some it might be Copacabana by Barry Manilow gets stuck in your head. For others it might be that for some reason wildly popular 90's song Barbie Girl. For parents it might be the omnipresent grating tune baby shark.
You're all welcome for now I've given you something that's stuck in your head. True confession now the song that vexes me is a tune covered by the rolling stones “Time is on my side.” When ole Mick Jagger sings “Tiiiiime is on my side, oh yes it is” it becomes and ear-worm for a couple of days, but I also hate that lyric.
I'm not usually one who begrudges artistic discourse or poetry, however this time I'm going to, this lyric troubles me because Time is not on your side, time is a relentless unfeeling machine that is moving in one direction forward, it waits for no one and nary a one of us will escape its clutches.
We are each and all time travelers, exciting isn't it. We don't have to have a suped up Delorean; we are all moving into the future.
None of us has power over time, but it does have power over us.
We have all learned, especially this last year with the coming of Covid, that time is a relative affair.
It feels like to some that March 2020 was either 17 years ago or a month ago and depending on the day our feelings about that flip flop.
Time is an unflinching machine that barrels along unfazed by the goings on of our lives. People move in and out of our lives, our kids grow older. Heck we all grow older; for some of us our hair thins or grays; for most of us our waistlines change too.
The passage of time keeps rolling along utterly unfazed and we ride along with it.
We all muck about all the time trying to make some meaning with of our lives and attempting to find some joy and make an impact on the world around us. Time is a compelling force that informs us and shapes us and motivates us to do something in this world.
We all want to use our time that we have before us wisely, and make the most out of it because that's what we humans do. We try our best to make and find some meaning in the world, because time is a finite commodity.
In our reading from 1st Corinthians today we have just a short 3 verse snippet/snack that is couched in a longer section about how these early Christians thought Jesus was coming back and coming back quick. They believed with an urgency that the time they had left was a quickly evaporating commodity.
So in turn they were trying to figure out how to live as a responsible people with the short time they thought they had left. They were giving and receiving advice as how to fill their lives with what, as they understood it; the short time they had left....
They wanted to be useful and authentic faithful disciples spending their lives to build up the Kingdom of God.
This is a message we can and should hear too. It is all to easy to lose sight and get distracted. Paul was exhorting the Corinthian community to focus on the important tasks at hand because time was being summed up in Jesus.
This early Christian community while they weren't necessarily correct about an impending return of Christ, they were wholly accurate in their understanding that the world was and is transforming because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The world is ever and always changing and God calls Christians of every time and every place to be of use to God and others in the midst of this change.
We live in strange times, and we always have. We live as resident aliens, citizens of another place, who are seeking to cooperate with God in the building of a new world....
Time is always passing away, time is always of the essence especially to we Christian people and we each moment have an ability/opportunity to choose how then we want to live, what then will be our legacy, how we will craft our story, what then shall we do to build up the kingdom of God.
Do not lose hope, do not be discouraged, do not be overcome; the God of the universe as most perfectly revealed in Christ Jesus is still asking and working through God's church to build a new world of light, and hope, and love to take the place of one with an dangerous addiction to self destruction, and unfettered greed, and wanton violence.
Time still marches on, it always has and it always will, we can't fight that. Time however can never take away how we choose to live. .So many folks have rendered judgment upon the church as self obsessed ancient artifice of a bygone era that is wholly irrelevant ; and that judgment is well earned
So here is my hope both now and always Church; for me and for you choose the way of Jesus.
Choose to be a people of flagrant hospitality, practitioners of mercy in a merciless world, outposts of hope in a world of misery, people of peace in a world committed to violence...
Every time we choose this way, it gets a little easier, each time we decide to treat others as we would wish to be treated a little more healing takes place, every deed of mercy practiced heals others and the church.
Time marches along, we can choose to spend the time we have left, whether it be long or short, cooperating with God to build a something beautiful or we can choose not to; the choice is ours. They way of Jesus Christ is the most compelling answer to so many questions and pains our world has. How then shall we live?
~ Rev. Lance Schmitz, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church