“Kairos” is an ancient Greek word meaning the “right or opportune moment.” Kairos is also the name of the adult Sunday School class that I have been teaching in my church for the past several years.
When I agreed to start teaching the class, I had no idea what “kairos” meant. I also had no idea what I was doing. I did know, however, that I had some big shoes to fill, as I was succeeding the much-loved and respected wife of one of our ministers. She (hi, Beth!) was a gifted teacher in her own right and no slouch in biblical scholarship, and was leaving the class only because her husband had been called as senior minister by a church in another city. Prior to Beth’s leadership, the class had been taught by two different UVa professors, one of whom had ministerial experience, and both of whom went on to teach at Christian colleges after leaving Charlottesville (at which both have since won teaching awards).
What in the world was I thinking? Caught me in a weak moment, I guess.
That was in 2005. Fast-forward to 2010. With my English major, law degree and grand total of one undergraduate religion class on my Sunday School teacher resume, I still feel woefully underqualified to be leading the class. Yet, I look forward to teaching every week. The class is thriving, our roster is growing, and the biggest problem that I generally have is in cutting the lively discussion off in time for people to make it to the 11:00 worship service on time.
While I wish I could chalk it all up to my exhaustive scholarship, insightful messages and witty repartee to class members’ questions, I cannot. It all comes down to the fact that we simply have an extraordinary group of people who gather together every Sunday morning. At first blush, our class might seem to be a fairly homogeneous group. For the most part, we tend to fall into similar educational and economic brackets – much like the city of Charlottesville itself. Dig under the surface, however, and the differences begin to appear. Some in our class grew up in church, two were preacher’s kids, and one has an M.Div. On the other hand, others were raised in the time-honored Poinsettia and Lily tradition, attending church only on Christmas and Easter, and some were raised in families that didn’t go at all. Some have well-worn Bibles and can cite chapter and verse, and some are still finding their way. We have Democrats and Republicans, hawks and pacifists, firmly committed and open seekers.
What binds us, and what brings us all together every Sunday morning, is a respect for each other, a willingness to share our thoughts, and an honest desire to know more about what it means to be, and to live as, a Christian. With those dynamics at work, the class cannot help but be successful, underqualified teacher notwithstanding.
“Kairos”, therefore, is an apt name for our class. Sunday in and Sunday out, we gather together for 45 minutes of “opportune moments” in which we are united by our commonalities, and by our God. It is a blessing that I for one do not deserve – but such is the nature of grace.