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There are Times…

Remembrance Sunday

Pentecost 24, Common Lectionary Year B 

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8; Matt 5:1-10

©2015 Rev Elisabeth R. Jones

Oh, my dear friends,
would that life were so easily beautifully,
biblically balanced!
That every soul who mourned would be comforted
and therefore blessed!
That every thirst for righteousness
would be satisfied!
Would that we knew how to discern impeccably
the right time for birth, death,
speech, silence, love, war, peace.

Although both these Scripture texts
are so familiar,
so beautiful, so holy sounding….
they are difficult.

There are times…..
when a death comes too soon,
or too late,
or too hard;
when a war can be seen as nothing other than
horrific, senseless, ugly.
There are times when the crying is never relieved
by laughter;
and there are times when the tearing down goes on,
and on, and on….
There are times when these beautiful words
become harsh in their ironic parody
of our often cruel, chaotic, reality.
But they’re Biblical!
We expect them to be true, somehow, trustworthy.
So, when we notice that we’ve just said
“Thanks be to God”
to lines like this:
“there is a right time to kill,….
to hate…. for war…
for mourning…. for death,
for throwing stones….”
Well, we get a little nervous.
Are we sure we want to “Amen” such sentiments.
Are we sure such words are ‘Holy?’

We expect Biblical words to deliver
on their sacred promise,
and we suddenly find ourselves angry
at them when they don’t;
When they don’t hand to us,
silver-platter style
the time for building up,
for dancing, for repairing,
for planting, for birth,
for peace, for love.”

Qoheleth, whoever he was, is a difficult muse.
Elsewhere in his gathering of preacher’s wisdom
is the existential throwaway line
to throw all lines away!
“Vanity of vanities, all is futile!”

Why bother?!
Why bother trying to live well,
if the promised Kingdom of God
seems no nearer than it was 2000 years ago?
Why bother trying to feed the hungry through CAC,
year after year,
if the problem of systemic poverty is never solved?

Why bother giving coats to the homeless if it doesn’t deal with the problem of housing for the most vulnerable?

Why grapple with what it means to be Caring Community, when despite our best efforts, we mess up, miss the mark, and seem never to meet the need for care?

Why put dollars and sweat equity into a protracted, bureaucratically burdened process
to sponsor Syrian refugees,
if that is a mere drop in the bucket?

Why bother laying a wreath, standing in silence,
teaching our children the sacrifice, the honour,
and the horror of war fought to defend human freedoms,
if peace never truly comes?

Why?
Because these are the times.
The right times.
The time given to us, our generation.
Between the two brackets of our birth and death,
these are our times
for standing in silence to mourn death
for the sake of peace.
These are our times
for hating injustice,
and for speaking up, speaking out
against violence towards women, children,
the other, the stranger.

These are our times
to plant and build up,
and repair the damage to our climate, our planet.

These are our times
for embracing,
standing beside our First Nations
sisters and brothers
in search of reconciliation and a shared future
on shared land.

These are our times
for making our tiny bit of difference
in the global plight of refugees.

These are our times for crying together
in mourning, and laughing together in joy,
for struggling together
as a community to shape ourselves more closely
to the Gospel of God,
These are our times to be forgiving and forgiven,
as we listen and learn and live, our love of God
and neighbour,
within and beyond our walls.
There are times…
dear brothers and sisters in Christ.
dear fellow children of God.
These times are ours,
the time is now.

Thanks be to God.

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