The Seasons of Life Are in God's Hands
Preparing for the First Sunday in Lent, One Day Before Sunday (Year C)
Psalter: Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16
Old Testament: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
Gospel: John 12:27-36
God of the living, through baptism we pass from the shadow of death to the light of the resurrection. Remain with us and give us hope that, rejoicing in the gift of the Spirit who gives life to our mortal flesh, we may be clothed with the garment of immortality, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
I know that whatever God does endures for ever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it; God has done this, so that all should stand in awe before him. That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already is; and God seeks out what has gone by. (Ecclesiastes 3:14-15)
He who governed the world before I was born shall take care of it likewise when I am dead. My part is to improve the present moment. (John Wesley, 1703-1791).
I have never found the New Year very interesting. While I enjoy the celebration of Christmas, the New Year is basically a time to hang a different calendar on the wall and to spend the first month trying to remember to write 2012 instead of 2011. Most New Year’s Eves are basically quiet; some years I stay up until midnight and some years I don’t. The page on the calendar will turn whether or not I am awake to witness it.
Having said that, I do take the new year as a time to reflect upon the past year—to give thanks for God’s presence on the journey of another year and to ponder what the next twelve months will bring. And it is this time of the year that I often turn to Ecclesiastes. I like the wisdom of the sage in that book. It's a sobering kind of wisdom written in the context of trust—trust in God for all the times under heaven.
We human beings like to believe that we are in charge of our destinies, that we are in control—”I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” But to use the word invictus to describe human beings is one huge deception. Death wipes away that illusion in stark fashion. We are not unconquerable as the wise sage of Ecclesiastes knew so well; for there is a time for all of us to die (3:2).
John Wesley also embrace the wisdom of Ecclesiastes in knowing that God was governing before he was born and that God would continue to govern long after his death. The same is true for all of us. Wisdom is found in accepting that truth and making the most of our time on this earth for the sake of the gospel in this world. How often it is said that life is short. It is short; and so we better get cracking in making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. There is no time to waste because there's not much time for each generation.
The wisdom of Ecclesiastes is something to be heeded in 2022 as in all times: You and I are not gods unto ourselves. You and I are not in charge. We do not control time, and often it is difficult to know the right time for everything, as the sage refers to it, “under the sun.” Yet, here is the Good News—One who is more powerful, wiser, and more just and merciful than we is in charge. Yes, the wrong often seems so strong, but God is still the ruler of all that is. And this God has the times of our life in his hands. We must rest content with that truth.
Jesus Christ is the master of my fate. Jesus Christ is the captain of my soul. He is Invictus. And only when I acknowledge such wisdom, can I conquer as well.
The seasons of our lives are held in God's hands. That is wisdom for daily living.
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