For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
These words first appeared in the biblical book of Ecclesiastes (3:1-8) thousands of years before the Byrds popularized them. It doesn’t matter which version you’re more familiar with- the message remains the same. There is a certain time for everything we experience, and that time is in God’s hands.
Like the seasons, which flow in a cyclical manner, our lives are marked by certain themes that seem to recur throughout the passage of time. The years march on in an endless line, yet we have experiences that resemble former events in our lives.
So it is for our personal lives, our congregational community, and our local and global society.
We are born, go through school, find employment, start families, watch our kids grow up, take care of our parents, help our children get jobs, let them take care of us, and die. We start a congregation, experience the growing pains of a new faith community, flourish, watch our numbers dwindle, ask God for help in growing again, find a new way to continue ministry, and flourish again. We build society, hear people claim their needs, negotiate, grow, and change, establish a new normal, until another group states their unmet needs and the cycle begins again.
The process of growth and change is not easy, but it is worth it. God is in the center of building a more just world. Each time we go through something we have gone through before, such as finding a new way to do ministry, watching a group in society protest, or seeing international conflict arise, we are able to look back on how we responded in the past, and search how God is calling us to respond.
There is a lot of anxiety in all levels of life right now. But if we truly believe that God is calling us to live lives that seek justice for all, we will find the ability to be steadfast, to see how our previous experiences shed light on our current circumstances, and be a part of God’s work in the world.
For everything there is a season, and God is present in them all.