“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” Ecclesiastes 3 begins, but do we truly believe that? We certainly believe it about death. Practically every memorial service includes this passage. We will say it about birth sometimes too. There is a time for those. But do we believe these words throughout our lives and lives of faith? Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 mentions twenty-nine “times.” Are they all just as significant? Is the planting, healing, weeping, dancing, seeking, silence, love, and so much more just as much a part of our vision?
The flowers in the picture above love the morning sun. By 8am, the blossoms will open and bask in the light until midday. The neighborhood bees will visit them for hours. When the sun gets a little too hot for the flowers, they will close for the day. The bees will go home or to the roses around the corner. The whole cycle repeats itself day in and day out until the first frost comes or until the rabbits decide to attack. There is a time for everything.
In the church, we are often influenced by recency bias when we observe the successful ministry of the church down the road and nostalgia when we remember the “good old days of the church.” Frequently, we neglect the years of planting, plucking, weeping, laughing, mourning, and seeking that led to those vital ministries in the present or historical past. This is the longer view of history or “time” that Ecclesiastes calls us to remember and heed. Do not mistake the now or reminisced peak for the only “time.” Do not mistake the now for the not yet either.
There is a time for everything….it just might not be right now. So much of our modern world caters to the immediate, is designed for the instantaneous, that we struggle today with the things that take until tomorrow or the future to come to fruition. I am a big proponent of the philosophy “that the thing that must be done eventually should be done immediately,” but we cannot always do that. Particularly in the Presbyterian Church, there is planning, committee meetings, and foundational work to be done: planting, building up, and gathering stones. There is a time for everything.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a specific time where we have had to break down, build up, weep, laugh, mourn, and love. It has been a time where so much had to stop, but where so much more was planted.
What time will it be next?