1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
I wrote the following note to the Elders of the church recently, and it also appeared in my regular "Pastor's Perspective" article in our weekly newsletter. I recall that even in a season of great grief currently in the congregation I serve, there is an abiding presence of God always working among us.
"Congregations are built on seasons. We live through seasons of all kinds. Our worship is largely built around liturgical seasons. Lent is about repentance, Advent is about anticipation, Pentecost is about growth. The cycles of the congregation’s worship life is akin to the cycle of life & death that congregations have experienced for thousands of years. It’s no surprise that Hillside is not unique in this. Yes we’ve experienced a concentrated season of deaths in our congregation. And together, we have faithfully loved one another, we’ve rightfully given thanks to our Creator for the lives of loved ones, and we’ve comforted our friends with calls, cards, and condolences.
Even as we’re preparing for another couple of funerals in the coming days, we’re also in the beginning of several moments of joy in the lives of people in our congregation. We’re preparing for baby dedications and baby showers over the next several months. We’re preparing for weddings and baptisms and the joys of new adventures in life. We grieve together, and we share joy together. We move in and out of seasons, with God amid all of it for us.
The letter to the believers in Thessalonica (5:15-18) reminds the faithful community about one of our most important responsibilities:
Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
I am confident that we’ll make our way through this season as well, by the grace of, and in great thanksgiving for, God our Creator.
Rev. Andy Beck