Sunday was Confirmation Day for eleven young people in my congregation. It is just two weeks before my last Sunday as pastor here.
Because my time here is winding down, and because the pre-confirmation retreat was the same weekend that I had both a funeral and a wedding, I was not able to be with the confirmation students at their retreat. I missed being a part of their day writing their faith statements, creating their banner, designing their worship service.
But on Sunday morning, I still got to be there, to be with them, to speak some words to them, to say their names, to witness their promises.
I saw them as they processed in together with their parents. They each stopped in front of the baptismal font, where their parents marked them with the sign of the cross. I saw tears. And I felt tears.
Before the service, I was checking over parts with the other pastor, who was preaching. I asked who was reading the lessons, and discovered that the parts were open. I asked three of the confirmands if they would read, and they each said yes.
So, that morning, we heard so clearly and so passionately that for everything there is a season. We heard that we were buried and raised with Christ in baptism, and now walk in newness of life. We heard that we are light, and that our purpose is to shine.
The message that morning was about Kairos time -- not the same as the time on our watches, not chronological time, but the right time, the acceptable time, the time of opportunity. "it is your time," he said to the confirmands. "It is your time to serve, your time to follow Jesus, your time to say yes to the grace and beauty and love of God in your life." Those aren't the exact words, but that is what I heard.
This is your time -- the right time, the acceptable time. That's the message that the confirmands heard, but not just those eleven students. Is it the right time for us as well? Who is Jesus calling us to be? How is Jesus calling us to follow?
In two weeks my time here in this congregation will finish. I will not be their pastor any more. I will go to be pastor in another place, to other people. I will help them dream dreams, follow Jesus, grow in grace. It is the right time.
At the close of the service, the eleven young people processed down the center aisle to the back of the church. I followed them. A woman in the back of the church, someone I didn't know, grabbed my arm. This was her first time in our church, and she asked if I would pray for her, and for her mother, and for their relationship, and for all kinds of healing. I asked her name, and her mother's name. She told me. We took each other's hands. And there were tears. She said, I'll be back.
In the meantime, I am here. Here with the water and the word and the tears, and the names that I know, and the names of strangers. Here where we pray and heal each other in the power and compassion of Jesus. It is the right time.