Embrace the Season | Ecclesiastes 3.1-13
Reflection 1 of 5
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 cast 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 cast 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.
What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man. Ecclesiastes 3:1-13 | ESV
It’s tricky business writing devotions preparing a faith community for a teaching when you don’t personally know the “who” and beyond a sermon title and text you’re not really sure of the “what.”
So let’s keep it simple this week.
The text for reflection each day will be a bite of Ecclesiastes – that wonderfully irreverent holy book that has left many rabbis and fathers wondering, “What is this book doing in here?” “Ecclesiastes” simply means “preacher” – one who speaks up in an assembly because he has something important to say. This Preacher at least assumes the mantle of Solomon as he speaks, and from the high vantage point of Solomon’s wondrous achievements, the preacher shouts his defining word: “Meaningless!” His message is a bit of a slap in the face, which may actually make it excellent devotional fare, particularly if you’re reading this as you start your day. The preacher has a unique way of cutting through it, of cutting through us and our cozy assumptions about life, about ourselves.
So I’ll just let him speak this week.
Read his words aloud each day (thank you, Eugene Peterson for channeling the preacher’s passion and heart so vividly for us). I invite you to let them be the “words of the wise” the preacher describes as prodding us “to live well. They’re like nails hammered home, holding life together.” Give them a deeper hearing. And then you might just want to read the whole book.
In this “receive section” through the rest of this week, I will give you the words of Phil Strout himself from his recent book Thrive, just so you can hear a bit of his heart, a bit of his story. Over the next four days you’ll read his introduction to Thrive, so each reading will build on the one preceding it. We’ll then see together how well the Preacher from the page dovetails with the preacher that will occupy our pulpit (no pressure, Phil).
Hear the Preacher.
Embrace the season. For the long haul.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” What beauty is taking your breath away in this time? Or, conversely, what harsher tones are you experiencing? How might you be experiencing both in this time?
Abba Father, you do make everything beautiful in its time, and you so creatively use the darker colors of our existence and experience to do it. Open my eyes to see this more clearly, to experience it more deeply as you weave me into your unfolding tapestry today. Through Christ.