Saturday, March 9th
Throughout the year, the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ produces the Daily Lectionary for use by churches. These are the suggested readings for March 9th: Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16; Ecclesiastes 3:1-8; and John 12:27-36. I would encourage you to read these short selections as part of your Lenten practice.
Very early tomorrow morning Daylight Savings Time returns, which means that we all need to push our clocks ahead one hour before retiring this evening. This does save daylight, but I hate losing that hour of sleep. Plus, it’s always on a Sunday morning that this takes place. How often have we seen someone arrive at church as the Service is ending because they forgot about “Spring ahead”?
I wonder if the time-change has anything to do with the choice of our biblical selection from Ecclesiastes that we read today. The familiar refrain of “For everything there is a time …” ties in nicely with this semi-annual clock adjustment.
Ecclesiastes is obsessed with time and its futility. The same fate awaits all people no matter who they are or what they do. Mortality stifles purpose: “What has been is what will be, and what has been is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun,” (Eccl. 1:9) and therefore, “all is vanity.” And you do not want to read chapter 9 on a rainy, dreary day.
The poetry of today’s Ecclesiastes selection speaks to this futility in as positive a manner as “the Teacher” can muster. As you read its verses, watch as the emphasis moves back and forth from beginning with a positive (i.e., born, plant) to beginning with a negative (i.e., kill, break). This recurs throughout. There’s no preference given to good or bad; there is only reality’s disinterest of “For everything there is a time …” Time is cyclical. Nothing new ever happens. Just embrace the moments of joy or purpose with gusto because time is a coin-flip that will not let them last.
And then there’s Jesus. Everything changes. Time opens-up to the ineffable. The eternal-beyond-time breaks into the temporal and all that is bound by time. This does not make time irrelevant. It endows time with purpose and creativity. Those first Christians who gave us the New Testament were impressed with the fact that in Jesus all is made new. (cf. 2 Cor. 5:17; Rev. 21:5)
Jesus experienced the reality of mortality and time. He was born and in today’s selection He knows that death is not far off. But … He knows there is more and the cycle of futility bound by time dies when Jesus conquers dying. Jesus gives us the hope of breaking out of the cyclical repetition of time, and offers instead the purpose of direction, of salvation.
We’re on our Lenten journey, movement is involved. If we stand in place as time moves forward, we fall behind. Jesus is calling us forward. We must keep moving. Think back to His words: “‘’” Darkness will engulf the one who stands in place so instead we must walk while we have the light. Our light is Jesus and Lent is the sacred time when we have the chance to follow Him more deliberately. Let’s not let this time pass unheeded.
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