To provide the youth with: a) an understanding of the doctrine of the proper time in wisdom literature; b) the value of wisdom as guidance for life.
To engage the doctrine of the “proper time” in wisdom literature.
From Skip Masback, “Now is our Time” Sermon, November 13, 2011 (attached)
From: Richard Niell Donovan at www.lectionary.org (from Week 6)
“The time (Greek: kairos) is fulfilled” (v. 15). The Greeks have another word, chronos, to denote chronological time. Kairos is significant time – the moment of truth – the decisive moment. When we talk about the number of days that a ship takes to go from one port to the next, we are talking chronos time. When we say, “my ship has come in,” we are talking kairos time. If we miss our departure but are able to sail a day later, we have lost only a day of chronos time. However, if we are running for our lives and miss the last ship, it is an altogether different matter kairos time. To miscalculate chronos is inconvenient, but to miscalculate kairos is tragic. Jesus says that the kairos “is fulfilled.” The decisive moment has arrived. God’s reign is at hand. Heads up! Pay attention! Don’t miss this one! Your life is at stake!”
From Paul Tillich, Systematic Theology, v. III at 369-372 (from Week 6)
”3. ‘Kairos’ and ‘Kairoi’: We spoke of the moment at which history, in terms of concrete situation, had matured to the point of being able to receive the breakthrough of the central manifestation of the Kingdom of God. The New Testament has called this moment the “fulfillment of time,” in Greek, kairos.
This term has been frequently used since we introduced it into theological and philosophical discussion in connection with the religious socialist movement in Germany after the First World War. It was chosen to remind Christian theology of the fact that the biblical writers, not only of the Old but also of the New Testament, were aware of the self-transcending dynamics of history. And it was chosen to remind philosophy of the necessity of dealing with history, not in terms of its logical and categorical structure only, but also in terms of its dynamics. And, above all, kairos should express the feeling of many people in central Europe after the first World War that a moment of history had appeared which was pregnant with a new understanding of the meaning of history and life. Whether or not this feeling was empirically confirmed – in part it was, in part it was not – the concept itself retains its significance and belongs in the whole of systematic theology.
Its original meaning – the right time, the time in which something can be done – must be contrasted with chronos, measured time or clock time. The former is qualitative, the latter quantitative. In the English word “timing,” something of the qualitative character of time is expressed, and if one would speak of God’s “timing” in his providential activity, this term would come to the meaning of kairos.
In ordinary Greek language, the word is used for any practical purpose in which a good occasion for some action is given. In the New Testament it is the translation of a word used by Jesus when he speaks of his time which has not yet come – the time of his suffering and death. It is used by both John the Baptist and Jesus when they announce the fulfillment of time with respect to the Kingdom of God, which is “at hand.” Paul uses kairos when he speaks in a world-historical view of the moment of time in which God could send his son, the moment which was selected to become the center of history.
In order to recognize this “great kairos,” one must be able to see the “signs of the times,” as Jesus says when he accuses his enemies of not seeing them. Paul in his description of the kairos, looks at the situation both of paganism and of Judaism, and in the Deutero-Pauline literature the world-historical and cosmic view of the appearance of the Christ plays an increasingly important role.
We have interpreted the fulfillment of time as the moment of maturity in a particular religious and cultural development – adding, however, the warning that the maturity means not only the ability to receive the central manifestation of the Kingdom of God but also the greatest power to resist it. For maturity is the result of education by the law, and in some who take the law with radical seriousness, maturity becomes despair of the law, with the ensuing quest for that which breaks through the law as “good news.”
The experience of a kairos has occurred again and again in the history of the churches, although the term was not used. Whenever the prophetic Spirit arose in the churches, the “third stage” was spoken of, the stage of the “rule of Christ” in the “one thousand-year” period. This stage was seen as immediately imminent and so became the basis for prophetic criticism of the churches in their distorted stage. When the churches rejected this criticism or acepted it in a partial, compromising way, the prophetic Spirit was forced into sectarian movements of an originally revolutionary character – until the sects became churches and the prophetic Spirit became latent.
The fact that kairos-experiences belong to the history of the churches and that the “great kairos,” the appearance of the center of history, is again and again re-experienced through relative “kairoi,” in which the Kingdom of God manifests itself in a particular breakthrough, is decisive for our consideration. The relation of the one kairos to the kairoi is the relation of the criterion to that which stands under the criterion and the relation of the source of power to that which is nourished by the source of power. Kairoi have occured and are occurring in all preparatory and receiving moments in the church latent and manifest. For although the prophetic Spirit is latent or even repressed over long stretches of history, it is never absent and breaks through the barriers of the law in a kairos.
Awareness of a kairos is a matter of vision. It is not an object of analysis and calculation such as could be given in psychological or sociological terms. It is not a matter of detached observation but of involved  experience. This, however, does not mean that observation and analysis are excluded; they serve to objectify the experience and to clarify and enrich the vision. But observation and analysis do not produce the experience of the kairos. The prophetic Spirit works creatively without any dependence on argumentation and good will. But every moment which claims to be Spiritual must be tested, and the criterion is the “great kairos.” When the term kairos was used for the critical and creative situation after the First World War in central Europe, ti was used not only by the religious socialist movement in obedience to the great kairos – at least in intention – but also by the nationalist movement, which, through the voice of Naziism, attacked the great kairos and everything for which it stands.The latter use was a demonically distorted experience of a kairos and led inescapably to self-destruction. The Spirit Naziism claimed was the spirit of the false prophets, prophets who spoke for an idolatrous nationalism and racialism. Against them the Cross of the Christ was and is the absolute criterion.
Two things must be said about kairoi: first, they can be demonically distorted, and second, they can be erroneous. And this latter characteristic is always the case to a certain extent, even in the “great kairos.” The error lies not in the kairos-quality of the situation but rather in the judgment about its character in terms of physical time, space and causality, and also in terms of human reaction and unknown elements in the historical constellation. In other words, the kairso-experience stands under the order of historical destiny, which makes foresight in any scientific-technical sense impossible. No date foretold in the experience of a kairos was ever correct; no situation envisaged as the result of a kairos ever came into being. But something happened to some people through the power of the Kingdom of God as it became manifest in history, and history has been changed ever since.
A last question arises as to whether there are periods in which no kairos is experienced. Obviously the Kingdom of God, and the Spiritual Presence are never absent in any moment of time, and by the very nature of the historical processes, history is always self-transcendent. But the experience of the presence of the Kingdom of God as determining history is not always given. History does not move in an equal rhythm but is a dynamic force moving through cataracts and quiet stretches. history has its ups and downs, its periods of speed and of slowness, of extreme creativity and conservative bondage to tradition.
 The men of the late Old Testament period complained that there was a dearth of the Spirit, and in the history of the churches this complaint has been reiterated. The Kingdom of God is always present, but the experience of its history-shaking power is not. Kiroi are rare and the great kairos is unique, but together they determine the dynamics of history in its self-transcendence.”
Gather (10 minutes)
Dear Lord, Help us remember ancient wisdom, ancient knowledge, to drink deeply from the well of immortality. Whisper to us in the wind, in the crackle of the fire, in the sacred space of our heart. We are thankful and grateful to you who have come before us and after us. Teach us to walk in the sacred path. Amen.
Introduction to the Session (5 minutes)
Engage (25 minutes)
Activity 1: Understanding “Chronos” Time (10 minutes)
Activity 2: Understanding “Kairos” Time (15 minutes)
Reflect (15 minutes)
Send Forth (5 minutes)
Invite the youth to join you in prayer. Let them know before you begin that there will be an opportunity for those who wish to lift up requests for God’s help with specific elements of wisdom during the prayer. Give a few possible examples. Note that every time a “petition” is lifted up, the group will respond with, “Lord, hear our prayer.”
Begin the prayer by thanking God for the blessings of creation, the God-given capacities we have to learn from experience, and the lessons learned by those who have gone before that they have passed along to us as “mother wit.” Invite the students to voice petitions asking God to help us embrace particular pieces of wisdom in our lives, communities, and our world. After any student offers a petition (e.g., “Lord, help us to be mindful the need to think through the consequences of what we say before we speak”) lead the group in responding “Lord, hear our prayer.”
This resource includes supplementary materials:
Introduction for Leaders