The theologian Soren Kierkegaard said “life is to be lived forward, but it is to be understood backwards”. In order to understand the significance of Easter, we must look back to the first Eastern time. The Greeks used two words for time, “Kronos” and “Kairos”. “Kronos” deals with the past and the present, itemized and measurements of time. We must look back at Palm Sunday, and see in perspective of Jesus riding into Jerusalem and by looking back we can gain a better understanding of how to apply that insight into our present time. “Life is to be lived forward, but it is understood backwards” speaks of “Kronos” time, ‘including both history and future.
Kairos describes time as a moment; always in the present, so it cannot be measured. Because as soon as you measure it is gone. Kairos, because it is present, is an icon or symbol of eternal life, “heaven on earth.” …Beyond time, beyond space…entering into that timelessness that is rightfully called resurrection life. You can live, in the present moment, the “Kairos moment”, ‘the moment of opportunity” ‘and in the future, but the kingdom of God is right here, right now, here on earth, the “Kairos” of heaven, timelessness, something to be experienced.
In order to understand the significance of the Eucharist Table, we have to look back to the Last Supper. It was in this meal that Jesus speaks the words referred to as the words of institution that became the core of the Christian Eucharist that we share weekly when we come together. This was the final meal on what we call Maundy Thursday that Jesus shared with his disciples. And, in order to understand more fully the full meaning of this final meal, we explore the teachings and the words of Jesus in the Gospels that led to his arrest and execution.
Who was this Jesus that we share the last supper with every Sunday morning? The gospels reveal to us that Jesus was controversial. He bypassed religious and social norms at times in order to capture a teaching moment. These teaching moments included times where he ate, drank and spent time with those outside of the religious, political and social community; those considered as undesirable or unholy. But, He also spent value-added time with his disciples, those that followed him, i.e.…his spiritual family, as Jesus said:
“ Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:35, NIV)
The public activity of Jesus forwards into his death and resurrection. Easter! Jesus’ last supper is also the same supper repeated over and over and over again. Today at the altar of the Lord, we remember the teachings and life of Jesus as He came to earth in human form. We remember his arrest, death and resurrection. We look backward in order to look forward. On Easter Day we celebrate our life enveloped into the resurrected life. We look backwards to the words of Jesus: “If you want to be my disciple, take up your cross daily and follow me”. (Luke 9:3)
We remember the past, but we play it forward. We live in the present with our eye toward the future. We continue to do that practice of remembering and celebrating that Jesus called the first disciples to do, almost 2000 years later. The practice of the early church included the Eucharist service historically noted in the earliest of communal meetings. St. Paul encouraged Christians in both Corinth and Thessalonica to celebrate the Lord’s Supper when they met together as recorded in 1 Thessalonians, which is believed to be one of if not the earliest New Testament epistle written, 25 to 30 years before the Gospel of Mark, the first gospel written.
Based on the testimony of the early Scriptures, the testimony of early church tradition and throughout church history, the primary focus of the Eucharist service is the love of Christ for us and our love for Him, and that love encircles us. As we receive that love from God we are asked to love one another. There are no undesirables or marginalized in the Kingdom of God. All are invited to the family brothers and sisters in Christ, and, a kingdom philosophy that promotes and recognizes that “the first will be last and the last will be first”. This brings us back to the last command of Jesus at the Last Supper with his disciples, and that command is to be followed in the past and into the present and into the future.
That command is this: “Love one another as I have loved you”. (John 13:34) It’s not just good advice and good for business. It is good advice, and it is good for business. But, it’s not just good advice. It’s not a suggestion or a recommendation. It is a command. It is a command to love one another just as Christ loves you. The Greek word love, “Agape” means to love without expecting anything in return. It’s a deep and holy word, to love deeply from the heart. The same word in Hebrew means to love deeply from the heart, not just the head.
Today we celebrate the resurrected Christ. It’s a time to remember, to play it backward before we play it forward. When we celebrate Eucharist at Easter we are remembering all the seasons of the church year. It’s like reviewing a video of the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus; everything that leads to this climactic experience of Easter.
The cup that symbolizes death on Good Friday is also the cup that symbolizes life at Easter. Just as Jesus challenged James and his brother John with these words about the cup: “Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will indeed drink my cup”. (Matthew 22:22-23)
Christ took the cup of death and died. We drink the cup of salvation at the altar and are raised with Him in eternal life, right now, right here, in the present, a “Kairos” moment, “We remember the past and play it forward to the present and forward into the future. The cup symbolizes death, and the cup symbolizes life. Jesus Christ has risen from the grave! Easter has come! Christ is alive! During Easter we look backward and then forward to Pentecost when the Holy Spirit is poured out into the church and “we become the Body of Christ, the legs, the hands, the mouth, the eyes and the ears of Jesus”. (1 Cor. 12:27) As we pick up our cross daily, just as Jesus picked up his cross, we continue our journey toward the heavenly Jerusalem, and on this journey we are transformed daily by the cross of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, enjoying the presence of God in our lives. As the Psalmist says in regards to “Khronos” time: “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom”. (Psalm 90:12, KJV)
This is a “Kairos” moment, a time of great joy) Jesus lives! Jesus is Lord! Alleluia! Alleluia!
The Reverend Dr. David Madsen