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"What Time is it?" Eccles.

“What Time is it?” Eccles. (3:1-9)

Goon Fans will see what I did there with that title, those who haven’t a clue should play this:

I wonder what it is we most like about this time of year?

For me Autumn is one of my favourite seasons, to misquote Louis Armstrong – I love the colours of the trees, the smell of the air on a damp morning and I am even fond of the rain in its own way.

Now you may or you may not like Autumn, perhaps you prefer the spring and really dislike the Winter. But whatever out preferences are I think we would all agree that the seasons need to come around at their allotted time, in order to keep the world running smoothly.

Sometimes we wonder when things happen to us, why now, why did this happen just now

In Ecclesiastes 3 the ‘teacher’ (believed to be Solomon, but not identified by scripture) describes what he has witnessed during his life time, and is questioning why things happen in a particular way.

There is a time for everything,
a season for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to rebuild. A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to lose.
A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak up. A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace. What do people really get for all their hard work?

(Ecc 3:1-9)

Ultimately he decides there is an allotted time for everything.

I wonder what the biggest change in your life has been?

For some it might be some change in society or technology like the rise of the computer, for others it might be a personal circumstance. In my own life I think the biggest change I have witnessed was the change in my family has we had children.

We live in a world of Change don’t we. If we think back we have all seen a great deal of change during our life times. A hundred years ago who could have for told of Mass-air travel or the internet or even television?

Some people seem ready to embrace change, others are more reticent as they see that Change means the loss of things they hold dear. My Step-Father was recently bemoaning that very change. Has a train enthusiast he is much saddened by the state of the railways today. His Grandfather was a Guard on the GWR, and he can remember travelling all about with him as a young boy. To him the state of our beleaguered rail network is both saddening and a huge step backwards in terms of service.

If we really believe that life was so much better in our youth then it doesn’t leave us with much hope for the future. Is our standard of living really declining or is it just changing. Will my children’s children have a much worse childhood then I did? Is there any hope for the future?

But our hope for the future is not just about something that happens to us at the end of our lives, it is also a genuine hope in the future of mankind. Jesus taught us how we should behave and interact with those around us, not a set of rules for the sake of rules, but a standard of living which God knows is good for us. As a parent I set certain rules for my children because I know that to break those rules would be bad for them. God as our Father set rules in place for the same reason. We have the capacity to do ‘what we like’ but if we chose to follow his rules our lives could be so much more fulfilling. He knows how it works because he is not a vague God looking down from on high, but has been here and experienced it himself in the person of Jesus.

The writer of Ecclesiastes tells us that everything has its proper time and place. Yes we look back on the past with fondness, but we need to be prepared to look forward to the future. A future with God and in God’s plan. The Gospels tell us of the appointed time of Jesus’ return. As with all things this too will only come about at the time God has Ordained for it – in terms of Ecclesiastes – ‘There is a time for everything’.

The challenge how we use that time. The writer of those Old Testament verses encourages us to use the fruits of our labours to relax and enjoy life. And I think that is important but it must also be read remembering that we are also called to live the life and love of Christ out to others.

The teachings of Christ are a blueprint for a more fulfilling and safer lifestyle. If we were all to follow them then the future of our society and the future for us personally would be much brighter. Perhaps then our descendants will look back on today and see that their world is much better than in times gone.


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