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Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Today’s Reading | Ecclesiastes 3:1–15
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.
What gain have the workers from their toil? 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. I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live; moreover, it is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil. I know that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it; God has done this, so that all should stand in awe before him. That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already is; and God seeks out what has gone by. (NRSV)
For everything there is a season—and as sure as one season ends, another shall begin.
No other time on the calendar offers up such an acute awareness of time in the way that New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day does. As the reverie and expectation of tonight gives way to the malleable beginning to be set before us tomorrow, we will begin a new year with great resolution—fully expecting the new year to be better than years past as we stride towards the idealized vision of our lives we have created.
The writer—or, in Hebrew, “teacher” —of Ecclesiastes, however, offers us an alternative vision of time: rather than a straight line, time is something that is experienced in seasons. Seasons of personal growth, but also seasons of failure. Seasons of expectation, but also seasons of disappointment. We are challenged to see God in the midst of all circumstances, not just the times when everything is ideal, and in the same way we are challenged to believe that the value of our lives is not the number of resolutions we achieve, but rather in being God’s beloved.
May we begin the new year confident of God’s love for us, regardless of whatever season we find ourselves in and regardless of our ability to achieve resolutions, and may we each drink deeply of the gift of life God has given to each of us.
Great and loving God, I am so thankful for the newness of your love each and every day. Your love is with me regardless of circumstance—my sure confidence regardless of season. Amen.
Written by Matt Helms, Minister for Children and Families
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