2020 will be known as the year of masks, socially distanced gatherings, hand sanitizer, COVID-19 testing, anxiety, isolation, economic struggles, political uncertainty, and new ways of worshipping. This season has caused us to rethink how we engage with our family and friends; how we “do” church; how we shop; how we spend our free time; how we work and learn.
As this challenging and unusual season draws to a close and we look to a new year, may this reflection on Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 bring you peace.
1For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
7a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
In one sentence, the writer of Ecclesiastes names a wide variety of times and seasons in our lives. Typically, we mark time chronologically: morning, afternoon, evening, night time; days, weeks, months, years; fall, winter, spring, summer; moving from one appointment to another. This helps us stay on top of where we’re supposed to be and when we’re supposed to be there. But as we turn the pages of our calendars, we may miss important moments of life.
The dichotomies in the poem are less about a particular time and more about a particular way of being in the world. A particular way of being in relationship with those around us, creation, and God.
Our lives are held in God’s time as we live in the seasons and times for every matter under heaven. The reality is that none of these seasons and times last forever. Maybe that’s good news. The key then is to live in the present moment, in the best way possible.
In what season and time are you today? Is now a time to weep or a time to laugh? Is now a time to mourn or a time to dance? Is today a time to keep silence or a time to speak?
In whatever season you are right now, know that it’s okay. That God is there with you. Live in your time and don’t hold back. Laugh when you want to laugh. Weep when you need to weep. Mourn when your heart and mind bring you to that place. Dance when the Spirit causes you to move. Keep silence when you need that space to rest, to ponder all that is happening around you. Speak the words you long to say, words of appreciation, words of hope and love.
Beloved, there are no right or wrong ways to move through this time, this season of your life. That is a blessing of this passage. The key is to keep on living in the moment where you are and how you’re feeling. Then give grace to others in your life so that they too can live in their moment without fear and anxiety.
As we move into a new year, much of what we’ve been experiencing won’t change. This new year will start the same way that the previous one ended. What can change is how we move through this season: our attitudes, the thoughts we think, choices we make, actions we take, and the words we use. By focusing on managing ourselves and living each day in the present moment, we can move through this season with a greater sense of peace, gratitude, and hope for new seasons and times to come.
May the God of all time grant you to laugh, weep, mourn, dance, keep silence, and speak in ways that bring comfort and peace during this season of life.
Ever-present God, show us your presence in tangible ways today. Set us free from fear and anxiety and empower us to live in each moment of every day trusting in your unending love. Amen.
The Lord bless you and give you peace,