All I Want for Christmas: Love

Genesis 3: 1 – 3, 6
Jill A. Kirchner-Rose, MDIV, DMIN
December 23, 2018

As we near the end of the year and as we reflect on this Advent season of love, I find myself thinking about that hit song from Rent: 525,600 minutes. Do you know the song?

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes.
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear.
five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes.
How do you measure,
Measure a year?

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes. How will we measure, measure this year? The song asks, “In daylights? In sunsets? In midnights? In cups of coffee? In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife?” How do you measure, measure a year? The song concludes with this wise advice,

How about love?
How about love?
How about love?
Measure in love…
Seasons of love (love)…
Seasons of love (love)…

The best way to measure a year is in seasons of love. The Greeks recognized that there are two entirely different ways to measure time. There is Chronos and there is Kairos. “Chronos is clocks, deadlines, watches, calendars, agendas, planners, schedules, beepers. Chronos keeps track. Chronos is time at her worst. Chronos is the world’s time…Kairos is transcendence, infinity, joy, passion, love, the Sacred. Kairos is time at her best. Kairos is Spirit’s time. We exist in chronos. We long for Kairos. That’s our duality. Chronos requires speed so that it won’t be wasted. Kairos requires space so that it might be savored. We remember what it means to be alive in Kairos, reconnect with our divinity in Kairos” (Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance).

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes, five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear, five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes, how will we measure, measure a year? In deadlines, checklists, in watches, in agendas? How will we measure, measure a year?

As many of you know, my brother is recovering from surgery for bile duct cancer. Very rare cancer – so rare that there is only one surgeon from Kaiser in Southern California who does this surgery. This one surgeon operated on my brother and said it was the (I believe these were his words) the “gnarliest” surgery he has ever done. My brother ended up spending 28 days in the hospital. He was finally released from the hospital the end of November, but for several weeks he could not be left alone. Last week, I spent 4 hours with him to give his wife a break.

He sleeps a lot and so I came to his house with my computer, my to do list, my calendar – hoping to use that time to answer emails, to make phone calls, to plan worship services, to get through my “to do” list. After all, he sleeps a lot – and I am planning on 4 hours, at least 3 hours, of uninterrupted work time. My mind was set for chronos – you know planning and scheduling, deadlines and calendars.

Wouldn’t you know my brother did not sleep for one minute during those four hours. He laid on the couch watching the Sports channel…and just as I was settling in with my “to do” list, he decides to start talking about Mom and Dad. He starts talking about mom’s final days on earth with cancer and he talks about dad’s final moments before his last breath. With tears in his eyes, he reminisces about mom and dad. Before my brother’s cancer, I had never once seen him shed a tear – my brother the objective, rational, confidant, non-emotive brother now had tears rolling down his cheeks. I looked at my “to do” list and I looked at my brother and I heard the Spirit say, “Slow down. Pay attention. Go sit by your brother. This is important.” And so we shared heart to heart with tears in my eyes now too, it was truly a kairos moment. Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes, how do you measure, measure a year?

Undoubtedly, Christmas time is filled with chronos living – there are gifts to buy and presents to wrap and cards to send and hours spent in long lines and traffic jams on freeways. Christmas time is filled with chronos living, but if we don’t take time for Kairos, we miss the meaning of Jesus’s birth.

Do you know why Jesus was born? This is the way some people have told the story through the years: Beginning with our scripture passage from Genesis – Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the Tree way back in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve sinned. God punished them in all sorts of ways – mostly by allowing death to enter the world. The stain of this original sin is passed to each new generation through the sexual union of the parents, and each new baby is born in sin and deserves to die. God eventually felt bad about this and sent his Son, Jesus Christ, as a sacrifice on the cross. This was because only the spilling of Jesus’s blood was powerful enough to wash the original sin away. So now, everybody’s still born deserving to die, but at least there’s an out in the form of Jesus Christ, if you want to take it. If not, you go to hell.

I dare you to tell this story while holding a newborn baby. No way. Most of us could not do it. Therefore, we need to find a new way to tell the story of Jesus’ life. I believe that Jesus’ life can be summed up in one word: “love.” Jesus’ birth, life and even death teach us to how love. Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes, how did Jesus measure a year? Through the seasons of love. Jesus lived life one Kairos moment after another.

Love is the greatest gift of all. We may not remember the 1st or 3rd or 5th gift we opened last year on Christmas Day, but we do remember the love we received. We remember those Kairos moments. I believe that when it comes down to it, what we really want this year for Christmas is love.

I would like to close with a video entitled “Love is a gift: A Christmas short film.” It was created on a shoestring budget in the UK. Made on only 65 pounds – but it has spread throughout the world – touching so many lives. This short film brings chronos and Kairos time together.

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes, how do you measure, measure a year?