Thought for the Day : Monday 30 November

Thought for the Day by Nigel Greenwood (St Chad’s)

Readings: Ecclesiastes 3.1-8

‘There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace’.

This powerful and inspiring passage has so much to say about our human condition or experience, and whilst its inclusive title may be all-embracing, it has a timeless quality which covers so much of the human condition and experience.

As we contemplate how we might celebrate Advent, Christmas and Epiphany in a time of restrictions this passage provides a powerful resource for our reflections and prayers.  It surely draws us beyond ourselves into something infinitely greater – indeed timeless. 

Each of us can draw on our associations with people, places, events, music or images which have such strong associations that they become an integral part of who we are. Family and friends are both central to this, also forming the cornerstones of our lives. But of course as Christians there is an infinitely greater dimension to everything about us – our faith and belief in a Loving God who knows us better than we know ourselves.

For many folk, Handel’s Messiah is an essential part of our preparations for Christmas, but this year it is unlikely that we shall be able to attend performances in churches or concert halls across the land to experience that glorious moment when the audience stands for the Halleluiah Chorus and may even be tempted to join in! Powerful and inspiring as that can be, we need to bear in mind that Jesus was born not in a palace but a stable – so perhaps this link to a spontaneous yet compelling event in a shopping centre offers a more rooted version in keeping with his birth:

The author of Ecclesiastes uses the power of insight to consider our human experience as we ourselves need to move with the seasons.  Advent represents a new beginning as we again start a new liturgical year – for as Christians the word ‘seasons’ has different meanings and significance.  Indeed, life itself is a journey as we make our way through our own cycle of seasons.  It is generally thought that Ecclesiastes was written by King Solomon, noted for his wisdom – and this is surely evident in our passage today.

As we move through the seasons of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany our Thoughts for the Day will take a different form – in December exploring Carols, Hymns or Songs which have special meaning for contributors.  Then in the period up to Lent, we shall be exploring God’s presence in our communities – bringing time for everything.

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