Now is the acceptable time ... at Kairos CoMotion
Sharon Zimmerman Rader
February 23, 2002
"Pay attention." So began Sharon Zimmerman Rader, United Methodist bishop of
the Wisconsin Area.
Rader expressed gratitude for the Kairos CoMotion event which invites us to
"pay attention to the 21st century in which we live; pay attention to the
traditions which have shaped and misshaped us; pay attention to each other;
pay attention to our selves; pay attention to God; pay attention to the
power of the community."
The biblical story of Esther shaped Rader's sermon. The plot thickened when
Haman "felt the need to kill all those people who wouldn't, couldn't bow
down and conform to his world view. The rest of the book tells how Esther
risked her own life to save the lives of those people, her people who were
about to be killed."
The tension Esther found herself in was being warned not to enter the
presence of the king without invitation and her uncle Mordecai asking her to
go to the king with the encouragement, "It could be that you were made queen
for a time like this."
Rader says, "We've been warned. We've been warned not to tell anyone. And
we've obeyed. We've been warned not to make people uncomfortable about how
they spend their money or waste their time. We've been warned not to
challenge our government for its unjust economy or its military
policies.We've been warned not to talk openly about sexuality. We've been
warned not to say that the Book of Discipline is sometimes
incompatible with Christian teaching. We've been warned not to tell that we
are gay or lesbian. We've been warned."
"The laws have been written," said Rader, "and they put us at risk. The
people with power are anxious that those not like them stay in their place,
bow down appropriately in gratitude for the crumbs. Or, worse, the law keeps
some away, drive others out, shun some in their midst. There are some who
are making money, gaining prestige and boosting their own ego at the expense
of those who are most vulnerable."
"Some among us," Rader continued, "have spent lots of time weeping and
wailing about this situation. But, it hasn't much changed the reality for
the vulnerable, the oppressed, the hurting."
Even this Kairos CoMotion event may not change the world very much, said
Rader agreed with Dennis Jacobson, Lutheran pastor in Milwaukee, "The world
as it is will not be essentially changed until the end times.... To come out
of Babylon is not to make Babylon fall. The ability to make Babylon fall is
essentially beyond human capacity.... Babylon, the world as it is, co-opts
religion for its own purposes. The world as an enemy of God, and under the
judgment of God, is, ironically, loved by God. The world will be redeemed.
"The status of the faithful Christian," Rader reminded, "is always one of
being an alien in a strange land. Always feeling unease with the disease of
the culture. To come out of Babylon is to live in a constant state of
resistance to the -isms. To come out of Babylon is to connect with a
community of faith and faithfulness. To come out of Babylon is to act in
accordance with one's conscience. To come out of Babylon is to be confronted
with the one's own power of possibility. "
Esther was chosen for her beauty, not her mind, said Rader. "She was in a
land not her own, dependent upon others she could not be certain were
trustworthy and yet she stood at a threshold moment in history. The
prophetic words of Mordecai to Esther serve as a call for discernment.
Perhaps God has brought us to this moment for such a time as this - a Kairos
"We are being challenged," Rader said, "to use this opportunity for good, to
be stewards of the moment given to us, to take risks big and small, in order
to be faithful to our God and to each other. As Christians we take up the
Jesus walk. We live with people Jesus lives with. We challenge the systems
Jesus challenges. We focus on the God in which Jesus found purpose and
Rader called the participants to take a step into this new 21st century day
God has given us, to take a step into yourself and your own integrity, and
to take a step into mystery and the unexpected surprises of the next
As in the story of Esther, we are called to pray, to fast, to act and not to
do it alone.
"I believe," Rader asserted, "progressive Christians have been silent too
long. Everybody else tells us what religion is. It is time for us to speak
our understanding of religion."
"The purpose of this event is to build community so we can do what we
believe needs to be done. We need to join together and we need to invite
others to join with us in an effort toward greater justice, hope,
reconciliation. And we will live in the tension, the tension that is always
present in our midst, between conscience and compromise, between
faithfulness and effectiveness, between morality and expediency, between
prophetic and practical, between the world as it should be and the world as
it is. We came in the tension, we go out in the tension. The tension is our
Mordecai says to Esther, Don't think that you will escape just because you
live in the king's palace. It could be that you were made for a time like
this." All through her sermon, Rader indicated that this life transforming
line is also being offered to 21st century people and we can't avoid it by
trying to live out of any previous world view.
And so we went out to live in the tension of both parts of the verse we sang
with Holly Near the night before, "We are a gentle angry people and we are
singing, singing for our lives."
Following Rader's sermon we prayed and sang and received a balm of healing
and a sign of hope - the shards that were used in our first worship service
were found to have been transformed into leaves, the leaves of the tree in
Revelation which are used for the healing of creation. With this sign of
healing around our necks and a Song of Hope on our lips
("Praying, let us work for peace; singing, share our joy with all; working
for a world that's new, faithful when we hear Christ's call") Kairos
CoMotion ended as an event and the participants went forth to scatter the
joyful and living seed of being a Christian in the 21st century.
taken from: Bishop
Rader - Kairos CoMotion