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.
Years change, and time goes by, and season turns again to the next season once more. If you look at time, fall turns to winter, which turns to spring, with summer not far away. For the church, Advent becomes Christmas, followed by Epiphany, and Lent, with Easter not far behind. The coming year of 2021 allows us to look ahead and also to look back upon the past year. We’ve experienced a year in which we dealt with a pandemic, but it was also a year in which we dealt with the ordinary events of life. It was a year in which we had to pay our bills, care for our families, and do our work — it was a time for many things.
This is why, years ago, I realized that I prefer to wear an analog watch with a face and hands, rather than a digital watch. To see the face and hands and all the numbers helps to understand the fullness of time, where we’ve come from and where we’re going, and to remind myself that it is all one huge cycle that goes around and around.
Some people find the words of Ecclesiastes 3 to be inspiring, while others find the passage to be upsetting. But each year, whether we like it or not, brings the things listed in Ecclesiastes: birth and death, killing and healing, mourning and dancing, love and hate. It’s all a part of life, part of the sometimes wondrous, sometimes terrifying world God created. One truth we can learn is that you and I don’t have the control over things we might wish we had. We don’t have the power over the world, and over others, we might desire. But the good news is that wherever life takes us in the coming year, the seasons of our lives are held in God’s hands, and by God’s holy grace, all will be well.
If there is one message for us in this Christmas season, one message of hope, it is this: At all times, in all seasons, in all changes, God is with us. Emmanuel, God with us, the chosen One of God, came to us as a child, a human being, to save us and redeem us. This is the hope of our time, of all time, including the year ahead.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” How do you spend the time of your life? How well do you use the time you have? May we give thanks for the newness of life each day, each year, and may we continue to follow our Savior who lights our way through every challenge and uncertainty. May God be with us throughout the new year, and always.