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Reading for Today: Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
Dear Friends,
I’ve recently been working on a project to create some Bible notes looking at the book of Ecclesiastes.
I think this particular extract is the most well known passage from this short Old Testament book.
It’s poetic and well loved – often shared at funerals and thanksgivings and at other times where reflective words are required.
It has been suggested that this is one of the most beautiful passages in the whole Bible, containing words which are deeply profound but also extremely simple to understand.
There is a time for everything.
This part of the book is very different from the rest of the book (read the whole thing if you have some time, it’s fascinating!) Ecclesiastes contains a lot of wisdom, philosophy and reflection, but also a real sense of world weariness which is something we might be able to identify with in the current circumstances!
The author of Ecclesiastes, often thought to be King Solomon, has lived life, sometimes to excess, but has not found peace or satisfaction. Instead he is grappling with a question – what really matters? When all around seems hollow, where is value to be found? Where is meaning? Where is God?
He may generally be wondering ‘why bother’ all through the rest of the book but the fact remains that despite all the questioning and world weariness in his writing, Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 does contain a message of hope.
By asserting that ‘there is a time for everything’, I hear the assurance that things will not always be as they are now. They will change.
Just as there is a time to weep, so there will be a time to laugh. Just as there is a time to mourn, so there will be a time to dance.
Although we might feel stuck and constrained by the current pandemic, as if life is currently ‘on hold’, this passage is a reminder that life is never static. It moves and changes and we move and change with it. The writer reminds us that God is present in all of our experiences and in the cycles of the earth and will never leave us.
God weaves together all that we hope for and all that we strive to understand, all that we struggle with and all that we celebrate. No experience is lesser than the other; all are recognised, heard and acknowledged.
These words speak of hope, of love, of real life and of the assurance that no matter how we feel in these difficult times, God is still with us, and there are better times to come.
Love and prayers
Rev Mandy Briggs
A prayer:
Loving God, thank you that you are with us in all of the times and seasons of our lives. If we are celebrating, dance with us. If we are sorrowful, comfort us. If we are weary, give us strength through your Spirit. If we need hope, may we know the hope of Jesus, who lived and died and rose again in the face of death and fear. Amen
Ecclesiastes 3 v 1-8
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.