Reflection for De-Covenanting Sunday

Reflection for De-Covenanting Sunday

Based on Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 Everything Has its Time

Opening Prayer:  May the words on my lips and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God, our Rock and our Redeemer.  Amen.

More often than not, this morning’s passage from scripture, sometimes read at memorials and weddings rather than in the context of Sunday worship. 

In fact, when I went to the Revised Common Lectionary online resource many Protestant churches follow, I was slightly surprised to see that this morning’s reading is often used for a New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day service. 

With low attendance often the norm during those Sundays, people miss a chance to hear these beloved words from the author of Ecclesiastes that begin with the words:

‘For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.’

Not so this morning!  

As we come to the end of our very particular and very personal season of pastoral relationship, we have this quintessentially perfect and timely reading for our reflection!

‘For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.’

Looking back over the span of the last three years since our relationship began, it feels as though the time has slipped by in a nanosecond.

Then again, it has been such a time of fulsome learning and growing for all of us, sometimes it has felt like we have been in this relationship for an eternity!

But what are we to make of this concept of eternity and eternal relationships?

One of the greatest gifts I have received during my time with you has been an introduction to a new relationship with the writings of Frederick Buechner. 

As many of you know, Fred Buechner’s little book “Wishful Thinking, A Seeker’s ABC” is one I have come to treasure.

Listen to how theses selected sentences offered by Fred Buechner describe eternity:

“Eternity”, he says, “ is not endless time or the opposite of time. 

Eternity is the essence of time…

As human beings we know time as a passing of unrepeatable events in the course of which everything passes away-including ourselves….

As human beings, we also know occasions when we stand outside the passing of events and glimpse their meaning.  

Sometimes an event occurs in our lives through which we catch a glimpse of what our lives are all about and maybe even what life itself is all about, and this glimpse of what “its all about” involves not just the present but the past and the future too.”

Buechner goes on to say that we, being human stand with one foot in eternity, but that God, being God, stands with one foot in time.”*

Indeed from Buechner to Ecclesiastes, we are encouraged to notice and to celebrate all the ways God’s eternal presence is shining through in this time of endings and beginnings!.

‘For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven!’

You and I, we have known this to be true in our time of shared relationship as pastor and congregation. 

You and I, we have felt God’s eternal presence shining through-together we have experienced it in the midst of the birthing and dying of new ideas and short lived ventures. 

You and I, we have felt God’s eternal presence shining through-together, we have experienced it in the midst of the breaking down old habits and no longer useful patterns and in the midst of the building up of new programs and new ministries. 

You and I, we have felt God’s eternal presence shining through-together, we have experienced it in the midst of holding on tightly to old grudges and then being surprised by how easy it can be to let them and our attendant fears and disappointments go.

Most certainly today, you and I, and everyone gathered here this day, we know  this: God’s eternal presence can be felt here now, as we laugh and dance and celebrate together, here, now, in this very moment.

As followers in the Way of Jesus, we come together to worship on Sunday mornings wanting to make space for God’s all encompassing and eternal wisdom to shine through and to touch our hearts through music, prayer, and scripture.

As followers in the Way of Jesus, we come together to worship on Sunday morning wanting to be fortified for our work in relationship in the wider world.

Our true calling though, our true purpose as followers in the way of Jesus, is to actually walk the talk of our faith-not just when we gather for worship here on Sunday morning; not just when we gather in community on Mondays with the ladies for Rip and Stitch; or on Tuesdays for Healing Touch during the daytime or Chapel in the evening, or on Wednesdays for Community Lunch, or on Thursday evenings for choir, or in those long blocked off meeting times with our various governance teams. 

Our true calling, our true purpose as followers in the way of Jesus, carries each and every one of us, alone and together, far beyond the walls and doors or our buildings. 

Our true calling, our true purpose as followers in the way of Jesus, carries out into the world to be the hands and feet of Christ in a broken and ailing world.

Now it’s a well known and now well documented fact, that you, the people of Knox have a deep and authentic calling for seeking justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with folks in the local and the global community.

It’s a well known and now well documented fact that you, the people of Knox are particularly invested in supporting of local ministries through First United on the downtown eastside of Vancouver. 

Many of you here will recall how a new relationship was born with Heidi Morgan, the volunteer coordinator at First United when she joined us for worship one Sunday last year.

What a delight it is for me to bear witness to your ongoing efforts to support programs for children, families, and seniors living in the downtown eastside!

For more information about how you can participate in the Gift that Gives Back or other programs, please talk with me, Colleen, Anne, or go to our website and check out the link to the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House programs you will find there.

‘For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven!’

Coming back to my own preparations for our celebration of endings and beginnings this morning, I was reminded of how contemporary music can and often does inform my response to scripture.

Yesterday as I considered my own words of reflection for this morning, the lyrics  from the Steve Miller Band’s song “Fly Like An Eagle”popped into my mind .

At a first glance, the refrain “Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future” seemed to echo well what I hear in the Ecclesiastes piece. 

Imagine my surprise at finding there, embedded in the lyrics, a call to respond to the needs of those on the margins!

‘Feed the babies who don’t have enough to eat.’

Shoe the children with no shoes for their feet.

House the people livin’ in the street’ *

In another story of endings and new beginnings in scripture, Jesus faces his incarceration in the 25th chapter of Matthew’s gospel.

Here, he reminds his listeners that it is through our relationships with the last and the least, the hungry and the thirsty, the sick and the imprisoned, that God’s in-breaking kingdom will break through and shine through all of eternity.

Between that and God’s shining presence here in this very moment, we can rest in the assurance that we have everything we need!

 ‘For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven.’

Thanks be to God, amen.

*Buechner, Frederick, “Wishful Thinking A Seekers’ ABC”( selected sentences, p . 26-27), Revised and Expanded, Harper One, 1973, 1993

** Fly like an Eagle”lyrics EMI Music Publishing,  Steve Miller Band

Let us continue to reflect on the depth and breadth of our relationship with God, Jesus, scripture, prayer, music, and each other as this time of meditative music is offered this day.

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