By Pastor Linda Dolby
Scripture: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: 2a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 3a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; 7a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.
If you give a mom a muffin,
she’ll want a cup of coffee to go with it.
She’ll pour herself some.
Her three year-old will come and spill the coffee.
Mom will wipe it up.
Wiping the floor, she will find dirty socks.
She’ll remember she has to do laundry.
When she puts the laundry into the washer,
she’ll trip over shoes and bump into the freezer.
Bumping into the freezer will remind her she has to plan supper.
She will get out a pound of hamburger.
She’ll look for her cookbook
(How to Make 101 Things With a Pound of Hamburger.)
The cookbook is sitting under a pile of mail.
She will see the phone bill, which is due tomorrow.
She will look for her checkbook.
The checkbook is in her purse,
which is being dumped out by her two year-old.
Then she’ll smell something funny.
She’ll change the two year-old.
While she is changing the two year-old, the phone will ring.
Her five year-old will answer and hang up.
She’ll remember she was supposed to phone a friend
to come over for coffee.
Thinking of coffee will remind her that she was going to have a cup.
She will pour herself some more.
And chances are,
if she has a cup a coffee,
her kids will have eaten the muffin that went with it.
Honoring Time: The Tyranny of the Urgent. This poem by Beth Brubaker illustrates well the tyranny of the urgent. We get started on something, we get distracted by something else, which leads to something else and on and on and all of a sudden the day is gone and as you lay in bed at night you think, “what happened?”. How easy it is to be absorbed by all the little daily things.
The ancient Greeks had two words for time, and kairos was the second. The first was chronos, which we still use in words like chronological and anachronism. It refers to clock time – time that can be measured – seconds, minutes, hours, years.
Chronos is quantitative, kairos is qualitative. It measures moments, not seconds. Further, it refers to the right moment, the opportune moment. The perfect moment. The world takes a breath, and in the pause before it exhales, fates can be changed.
Kairos is the time the author of Ecclesiastes is talking about – For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. We will face times of great difficulty and times of great joy. We will experience seasons of hard work and seasons of plenty. God can use each of these seasons of life to teach us something about who He is and how much He loves us.
We may never fully understand why some things happen when they do, but our attitude toward life changes when we learn to see good times and bad times as opportunities to grow closer to our Creator.
As we journey through the seasons of life, we will experience many ups and downs. Perhaps in your own life you have experienced the highs and the lows, maybe right now you are going through something that feels like a ride on a roller coaster. Have you ever gone for a ride on a real roller coaster? Did you enjoy it?
Roller coasters go up, down, twist, turn, loop and plummet. A ride on a roller coaster is probably over in a couple of minutes; and maybe, for those two minutes, you hold on so tight your knuckles turn white. You laugh, you scream, you cry, maybe you struggle to get your breath. Then it’s over. You are safe.
We all experience ups and downs in our lives. But, as Christians, as disciples of Jesus, we do not face them on our own - God is with us. His promise to us is that He will never leave us or forsake us.
That is the message we need to hear this Sunday following a week when 2 famous, important, rich people have taken their own lives. They sadly focused on the small things of life and lost hope in the bigger picture.
What spiritual season are you experiencing now? Do you feel like you are on roller coaster right now? Are you trusting God to help you in the season you are in? If we put our trust in God, then whatever we are going through, whatever circumstance or situation we are in, whether we feel like we are deep in a valley of despair or on top of a mountain, in good times or bad times, God is with us.
Godly kairos pierced its way into creation at just the right time, slicing through chronos with a cry of a baby in a manger. The cross was a kairos moment. Romans says, "For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly." Kairos moments then—and now—allow us to get a glimpse of the "other side." We peek around the corner at eternity. We actually glimpse how God works.
And that can happen anytime! A friend calls you out of the blue to give a good word. A child's innocent joy pierces a long, hard day of struggle. A coworker takes a moment to lend a hand. God is always surprising us with his perfect, kairos timing.
Knowing what time it is differentiates the foolish from the wise. Some hold on for dear life to that which is actually finished and done. Some refuse to let go of a relationship that has ceased to be nourishing. Others try to breathe life into, say, a church program that has been around for too long, but no one is brave enough to bury it.
I have a friend who started a new church. That church came to life because a dying church in that community gathered one Sunday, gave thanks to God for the saints who had gone before them and for the years of faithful service they had been able to offer, and then the members of that church walked out of the sanctuary, closed the door, sold the building along with the rest of their assets, gave the money to the denomination and said, "Please use this to start a new church." There is a time to build up and a time to break down, a time to be born and a time to die.
(Let me add as an aside, that neither I nor the leadership of this congregation believe it is time to make that decision. There are signs of new life all around here at our beloved Trinity and I believe God is not finished with us yet. Can I get an amen for that?)
Friends, the voice you hear today is that of a parish pastor, but the words I have spoken are the wisdom of the ages.
"For everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven. Yesterday is but a memory, and tomorrow but a vision. But today well-lived makes every yesterday a memory of happiness, and every tomorrow, a vision of hope."
In the 1929 Rose Bowl a man became known by a new name: Wrong Way Roy Riegels. Wrong Way was hit so hard in the football game, he recovered a fumble and he ran the wrong way with the football and scored a touch down for the other team and thus lost the game.
The point is this – don’t get so distracted by the tyranny of the urgent – the matters of chronos time – that you miss the Kairos – the God – moments. Sometimes life hits us so hard we lose our focus on the goal – that which is truly meaningful, important, and filled with the divine.
A copy of a Sanskrit poem written 2,000 years ago was given to me one Christmas by friends in the church I served. The next year, their lives and the lives of a dozen of their family members were snuffed out in a terrible plane crash. Let me share that ancient poem with you. A copy of it hangs on my study wall, and I read it everyday.
"Listen to the salutation of the dawn...Look to this day, for it is the very life of life. In its brief course lie all the realities and truth of existence: the joy of growth, the splendor of action, the glory of power. For yesterday is but a memory, and tomorrow a vision, but today well-lived makes every yesterday a memory of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope."
In the springtime of life, trust God. In the summer of life, trust God.
In the autumn of life, trust Go. In the winter of life, trust God.
In the good times, trust God. In the bad times, trust God.
In the calm before the storm, trust God. When the storm comes, trust God.
In the midst of the storm, trust God. After the storm, trust God.
Be faithful to God. Be steadfast in your faith. Whatever season you are in have faith.
May it be so. Amen.
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