Last January, I was slowly walking down one of the many aisles of vintage instruments trying to absorb as much as I could of the 2010 Orlando International Guitar & Music Expo. Not really watching where I was going, I nearly bumped into a young man in his early twenties carrying what I would best describe as a filthy looking, beat up brown box. It was roughly the shape of a guitar and held together by a couple of frayed yellow bungee cords.
I’ve studied vintage instruments long enough to recognize the case as a ragged example of the 1950′s Gibson “California Girl” made by the Lifton company. Sometimes they are referred to as “Cal Girl” cases, others simply refer to them by the manufacturer’s name, “The Lifton.”
Curiosity got the best of me. I stopped the gentleman and asked him what was inside the box. He looked at me, smiled and said, “My granddad’s old guitar.” At that moment he walked to the side of the aisle, knelt down, laid the case on the ground and proceeded to take off both of the yellow bungees to reveal the contents. Like any guitar enthusiast, my heart began to race.
When the case was opened the contents were far beyond anything I could even imagine. Inside the pinkish-purple velvet lined “Cal Girl” case lay the “holy grail” of guitar collecting, a near mint 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard Sunburst, or as it is affectionately known, “The ’59 Burst.” I almost felt my knees buckle as he handed me the written appraisal he had just received from Gruhn’s Guitars.
1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard “Burst” with original Case.
Serial Number: 93788
Insurance Value: $425,000.
For my guitar collecting hobby, this would become my “kairos” moment. The Greek term “kairos” means the right or opportune time, the supreme moment, or in this instance, “the supreme guitar enthusiast moment.” I had found the ultimate guitar and had been able to touch it, if only for a moment. When the case was opened it was as if every guitar collecting moment I had ever had, every guitar enthusiast book I had read, every online article I had ever printed, and every guitar I had ever played, had led to this exact moment. Just as significant is this fact that every guitar I have seen since is compared to my encounter with this incredible piece of instrument folklore. My kairos moment with a ’59 Burst was a game-changer!
But my little “kairos” moment pales in comparison to “The Kairos Moment” (note the capital letters). The coming of Christ in the flesh, or incarnation, Jesus’ ministry on earth, His execution on the cross, and His resurrection from the grave are the pivotal moment in time from which all of history sees its beginning or end. Our calendar reflects this eternal truth, all the years before the birth of Christ count down to His arrival (Before Christ or BC), and all the years since His incarnation are noted as His years (Latin: “the year of our Lord”, Anno Domini or AD).
Chris Brewer is a doctoral graduate of The Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies (http://www.iws.edu) and chairs the Worship Studies program at The Kaleo Institute at Brewer Christian College (http://www.kaleoinstitute.org)