Now, Now, Now – Br. James Koester

James Koester SSJEIsaiah 49: 1-7
Psalm 71: 1-14
I Corinthians 1: 18-31
John 12: 20-36

I’ll tell you a secret about me. Maybe those of you who have listened to me over the years can guess what it might be, but maybe not. It is not some earth shattering secret. I am not about to tell you some deep dark secret from my past. Rather it is about the way I approach scripture, and increasingly the way I approach life. 

The secret is that I am fascinated by the obscure; by the small; by the almost throw-away lines in the gospels. Sure I love the great passages like the Prologue in John’s Gospel. Yes, I can’t wait morning by morning as we read our way through Genesis or Kings at Morning Prayer to hear what happens next to Joseph or David. Certainly, I relish the parables in Luke and I find great consolation in Paul’s letters. But what fascinates me, what intrigues me, what captures my imagination and holds my attention are not the great stories or the wonderful literary passages but the obscure names, the fleeting references, the tiny two and three and four letter words like “go”, “tell” and today “now”.

“Go”, Jesus says “and make disciples of all nations ….”

“[T]ell his disciples … that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him,” says the Angel of the Resurrection to Mary Magdalene that first Easter morning.

“Now my soul is troubled.”

“Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out.”

Now, now, now, Jesus says.

Something important has happened because, until this moment, Jesus has repeatedly said: “My hour has not yet come”, as he said to his mother at the wedding in Cana and his brothers before the Feast of Booths. “My hour has not yet come.” Now is not the time. But something has happened, and now, now is the time. Now.

I am sure we have all had moments in our life when “now was not the time.” Now was not the time to move or to move on; to begin or to begin again. Now was not the time to start, or to finish or change. For all sorts of reasons now was not the time. Perhaps it had something to do with you, or perhaps it had something to do with someone else. But it was clear to us that the hour had not yet come.

But then something happens. Something imperceptible or significant happens to you or to someone else and whereas yesterday was not the time, now is the time. Now is the time to move on, to begin again, to start over, or even to finish something, to end it, to complete it.

It seems that this happened for Jesus. Yesterday was not the time, but now is the time. His hour at last has come and he is ready for whatever comes next. And what comes next unleashes a whole host of events that reverberates to this very day. What comes next shaped history, changed lives and ultimately brought us all to this very place. For what came next had to do not only with Jesus, but with you and me as well.

What came next was water and towel, bread and wine, kiss and cross, tomb and terror, light and life. What came next was seeing, and sending and saying.  Now is the time for Jesus and in a few short days we will hear him say “it is finished.” And for Jesus, his work will be done. But for us it will be just beginning.

So pay attention. Pay attention to what happens in the next few days. Pay attention to what goes on around you and within you. Pay attention to the water on your feet and the roughness of the towel in your hand. Pay attention to the softness of the bread and the sting of the wine in your throat. Pay attention to the brusqueness of the kiss and the splinters of the cross. Pay attention to the coldness of the tomb and the terror that clutches your heart. Pay attention to the brightness of the dawning light and the life that bursts forth.

Something has happened and now, now is the time Jesus tells us for him to be lifted up from the earth that he might draw all people to himself.

But soon, soon it will be our time to see, and be sent and to say so that all the world may believe.


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  1. Susan on April 16, 2019 at 04:59

    Now is the time to sing praises, glory to God, NOW is the precious moment don’t let it slip away, NOW!! AMEN.

  2. Ruth West on April 11, 2017 at 17:17

    I resorted to my Concordance to find the scripture, “Now is the day of salvation…” and, much to my surprise, there are hundreds and hundreds of scriptures beginning with and containing the word NOW!! I became so fascinated with the enormity of it all, I truly forgot where I was going, although I seem to recall that it says, “Now is the day of salvation; now is the appointed time…” Someone can tell me where that is found.
    Thanks for such a timely and significant sermon.

  3. Verlinda on April 11, 2017 at 14:32

    We discussed this very thing during EFM last night. We need to experience these days with Jesus to fully appreciate what the Resurrection really means.

  4. Christopher on April 11, 2017 at 10:09

    I am reminded of “Be Here Now”, a popular book by Baba Ram Das in the early ’70ies. Now is the present time, it is neither the past nor the future.

  5. Muriel Akam on April 1, 2015 at 03:32

    I can relate to all of the posts in different ways. Knowing the right time for action, the right words to say at the right time – yes , timing is everything. My son has wanted to begin a new venture for the last couple of years but I have put him off thinking it was a little premature. Funnily, just last week I decided to support him when he mentioned it again. I felt it Now was the right time. The sermon just resonates with me. The mystery of the crucifixion still remains bt Easter brings Hope and Joy in the resurrection.

  6. Marie on April 1, 2015 at 00:48

    And I am hearing not yet, now is not the time to move. Now is the time to stay where you are and wait, just a little bit longer then you will be ready to rejoice in the risen Christ. I lost my father recently and am still feeling the sadness so this Holy Week resonates with me profoundly this year but so will Easter, and what joyfulness that will bring, my heart is already anticipating the JOY!

  7. Ed on March 31, 2015 at 12:14

    Your message struck me because I am considering a new work venture. I am looking at new opportunities, and feel that God may be saying go for it.

  8. Sandra Ahn on March 31, 2015 at 12:06

    Thank you Br. James. During this Lenten Season I have been facing the declining health of a sister. Your message affirms some recent decisions for action in my life. Like a cloud lifted, things are clearer now and the required action is no longer obscure. The words “How Great Thiu Art” echo in my heart. With peace, praise and thanks.

  9. Verlinda on March 31, 2015 at 09:29

    During this Holy Week, as we move from our “not yet” mindset toward Maundy Thursday/Good Friday, we know that the “not yet” becomes the “now” for us. As our EFM group read the Passion Gospel on Palm Sunday this year, our collective “Not yet” visibly became the “Now.” And “Now” we continue our journey with Jesus.

  10. Ginny S on March 31, 2015 at 09:20

    Timing is everything. If we listen hard enough, we intuitively know when it is time. Time to act, time to wait, time to go. Seldom (never say never) does this feel like a spiritual emergency, it just feels right. Things align. Jesus knew it was his time. He acted accordingly. The question is when we hear the call “it is time”, do we act accordingly, or ignore it? Do we let doubt and fear hold us back? God loves us anyway, of course, but what are we missing when we don’t respond? Easter happens when we do.

  11. John Backman on March 31, 2015 at 09:11

    Br. James, I’m delighted to read about your attention to the small, obscure, and passing things in Scripture. I’m struck by those things all the time and was a bit worried that maybe I was splitting hairs. Now I will plunge ahead with parsing those odd turns of phrase that nudge at my heart. Thank you.

  12. Carole on March 31, 2015 at 08:04

    Wow, now is the time that my siblings and myself have to deal with the fact that our mother is getting older and she may no longer be able to live at home. This we have discussed over the last year, but now is the time we know is the time to act, not 6 months ago or even a year ago. Now is the time we know is right and must be acted upon. Wow, what a time for this reading to come along for me to read. Again, wow

  13. Robert Park on March 31, 2015 at 07:49

    A timely homily. Forwarded it on to a friend whose is grappling with a weighty decision. Have been praying
    for her . . . and then comes a long your message.

    Thank you.

    • Karen on April 3, 2015 at 10:32

      I too, am facing a weighty decision that will result in a significant change for me and my husband. Shortly we will be leaving the church we love – the church I serve. The future is unknown. Yet the next church I will serve, the community I will love, is out there waiting for me and is praying for me as I am praying for them. I’ve known that this move would come for some time. But now is the time. I am reminded again of the call I answered so long ago. And the call keeps coming. Now my hour has come.
      Thank you Br. James, for your timely words.

  14. Roderic Brawn on March 31, 2015 at 05:40

    In these few minutes the importance of the events of Holy Week is explained.

  15. Melanie Zybala on March 30, 2013 at 22:30

    Beautiful, and original:wonderfully observed.

  16. Rodger Patience on March 27, 2013 at 16:02

    Of course, now I’m singing to myself the lovely hymn, “Now the silence, now the peace.”

    Thanks for this reflection!

  17. Pam on March 27, 2013 at 10:45

    Your sermon reminds me of a line from one of John O’Donohue’s blessings/poems called “The Inner History of a Day,” which appears in To Bless the Space Between Us. It reads: “We seldom notice how each day is a holy place/Where the eucharist of the ordinary happens . . . ” It all happens in the ordinary, in the everyday, in the particular. The incarnate God infuses everything with his presence–every little word, every little thing–everything is sacred.

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