Good morning! I hope this day finds you and your family well, and I want you to know that you are in my prayers daily during this difficult time.
I invite you to take a few moments with me to reflect on today’s Upper Room Devotional below — as well as on the theology woven into “It is well with my soul.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1-12 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Everything Has Its Time
3 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.
The God-Given Task
9 What gain have the workers from their toil? 10 I have seen the business that God has given to everyone to be busy with. 11 He has made everything suitable for its time; moreover he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live;
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
Today’s reading catalogs various seasons of life, 28 of them arranged in sharp contrast to one another and yet each an undeniable part of human existence.
Ecclesiastes’ philosophy has resonated with many people down through the ages and continues to do so today. In the 60’s The Byrds recorded a pop chart single entitled “Turn, Turn, Turn” that was mostly the words of the first 8 verses of our scripture reading for today.
Those verses in Ecclesiastes talk about everything having an appropriate time and give a lot of examples: 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; etc.
The writer then goes on to say, “I have seen the business that God has given to everyone to be busy with. He has made everything suitable for its time; moreover he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” The writer is saying that God has given us a sense of past and future and we live between the two.
We alone, of all God’s creatures, have this sense of past and future, even though we are unable completely to plumb the depths of the mysteries of creation at the beginning and the mystery of how it may all end.
We live in the between time. That is where life is lived. The writer speaks of the gift of enjoying life. Someone has said that today is a gift and that is why we call it “THE PRESENT.” This moment is a present given to us by God. In this first month of the new year, we are most aware of this sense of living in the between time, this sense of past and future.
The month of January is named after Janus, the ancient god of Roman mythology with two faces looking in opposite directions. Janus, according to Roman mythology could simultaneously look ahead and look back. Ecclesiastes says that we have that same ability. He says that God has put a sense of past and future in our minds. We, living in the between time, have the ability to look in opposite directions. We can look at the past and at the future at the same time. It’s no wonder that the first month of the year is named after the Roman god Janus. It is a time of looking in two directions at once: back at the past and forward to the future.
This is so valuable because we always have some spiritual work to do between past and future. What is the nature of that work?
Our work on the past has two aspects: You could call these Keeping and Throwing Away or Taking and Leaving or Remembering and Forgetting.
Our work on the future also has two aspects: You could call these Hope and Commitment.
I invite you today to think about what you need to let go of and leave in the past and what you need to learn from and carry into the future. I invite you to look forward with hope and with commitment to more closely follow Jesus as you make plans for the future.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the words and music that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster