For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.*
~ Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
Growing up as a Christian, I was raised with the understanding that our Holy Scriptures were fundamental to our faith formation. I knew the importance of reading and studying Scripture to cultivate my relationship with God, but I was terrible at the disciplined practice. Truthfully, I didn’t really know how to study the Bible. With a heartfelt desire to deepen my faith, I would read it like every other book; starting at the beginning, the first pages and working my way to the end.
This method worked…for about two weeks at a time, if that long. I would start in Genesis and read my way through Exodus, but as soon as I got to Leviticus, I lost all interest: I loved all the stories and history of the first two books, but Leviticus is a book filled mainly with laws, rules, and regulations. It is an ongoing list of ritual best-practices for worship pre-Christ. I could never quite get through it. Despite my attempts to read the Bible, I never finished that third book. Needless to say, as much as I wanted to read and study Scripture as a child, I never made it to the “end” of the story.
I first learned the passage above, perhaps like many of you, from the musical genius of the Byrds. They were an American Folk Rock band from Los Angeles, popular in the ‘60s. In 1965, they released the song “Turn, turn, turn,” where they sang the beautiful words of Ecclesiastes. In fact, I didn’t even realize the lyrics were Scripture until they were spoken at a funeral I attended in high school. At the time, I was terribly confused (and, truthfully, amused) as to why the pastor was quoting the Byrds during a time of worship. “Who sings rock at a funeral?” I thought. However, the closer I listened, the more the message seemed fitting, and even comforting.
Surrounded by grieving family and friends, I heard: there is a season for everything in life; God has created all things in time with a place and purpose; life is not meaningless; with each and every changing season of life there is a new opportunity to stand in awe of God.
More quickly than we could have imagined, the seasons have turned, and we enter October, the beginning of Holiday Season! As your calendars fill with football games, family gatherings, traditions with friends, and shopping, may each of you have the blessing to stand in awe of God. Discover where God is at work in your community and do everything you can to be a part of it. In every season, seek first to be the hands and feet of Christ offering peace, forgiveness, reconciliation, joy, and a life-changing love to all.