To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which 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 cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, 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 of war, and a time of peace.
(Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8, King James)
Sunday's Theme: Time
To every thing there is a season, a time, a moment to hold on to, a moment to treasure. At times that is very true for our lives. And to every thing there are other times, other moments that level us and stop us from knowing how to catch our next breath. Throughout there are also times of `feeling in-between’ when there is only left foot, then right foot.
In this season of, this time of, in these moments of Advent we are invited to slow down and pay attention. We are invited to step out of our ordinary, everyday living and moving and being. We are invited to wait for just a bit before we do. December can be such a time of doing things. Many of us have grown up with that practice of December-doing. This year is so different.
Even in these pandemic days, we are invited into a both/and. Moments held in this season and this season holding onto moments. Advent welcomes us into moments: a smile on the face of a loved one (even in this time of masks), or a pause in a conversation with someone where words are not needed, or the first taste of something fantastic. Moments are somehow set apart. They are bigger and longer, deeper and wider that just a second. Moments somehow hold us in our life’s story.
Likewise, Advent invites us into this season: songs sung that are just for this time, that are known by heart; bright, colorful lights as we drive through neighborhoods; lighting candles at the end of the day. This season that moves from hour-to-hour, from day-to-day. This season that somehow for as long as I can remember has held my life’s story.
We are in a time of a global pandemic, a time of hospital’s being pushed to bursting, a time of one president’s leaving and a new one gearing up to start, of kids not knowing yet how they will be learning when school starts up again. We are in a time of mask wearing and social distancing. We are in a season of zooming and facetiming our most precious relationships. We are certainly in a time. To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. 2020 has defied logic. I am wondering and wandering around what purpose is to be found in these days. I know that there will never be a logical answer that will satisfy, 2+2 is just not adding up.
The writer from Ecclesiastes invites us to consider the balance of this season, the balancing of this time. These words remind our spirits that time isn’t just linear, it is also circular. We come round and round again, you and I. As with the giving and taking and giving again. As with the battling and peacemaking and battling again. This circular living is about moving in and through. This circular living invites us to learn, un-learn, and re-learn in a new way.
We are following this star to Bethlehem. We are seeking a new light, a new hope, a new way of being. This Advent season is calling us, even though we are weary to continue on. Even though we feel the nights growing darker, we are called to continue on. This season, these moments remind us that we are not limited to the way we are feeling or thinking minute-by-minute. Advent encourages us to see beyond what may be painful or feel impossible right now. Advent encourages us to trust that what is right here and right now is not all there is. We are still journeying on; we are still following what is yet to be.
"Time is different here," I heard my Mom's voice say a couple months after her death. Journeying through these Covid-19 days, remind me of the gift of those words. You are invited companion me on this 2020 Advent journey to Bethlehem, as we seek Emmanuel, God who promises always to be with us.