For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.
Many of us are familiar with this scriptural prose from Pete Seeger’s 1950s song “Turn! Turn! Turn!” Becoming an international hit in 1965 when it was covered by the band The Byrds, only the line, “Turn, turn, turn” and the closing line, “a time of peace, I swear it’s not too late” were written by Seeger himself. The rest are lifted from lines often ascribed to King Solomon. Seeger employed them in a time of war as a way of calling for peace.
The text waxes philosophically that there is a time for everything. Some translations use “every matter,” while others use “every purpose.” Too often these verses are used to support a theology that if something has come to pass, or failed to come to pass, it is because it is or is not on God’s schedule. Still others contend that it supports the view that God has a purpose for all that occurs “under heaven.” I do not believe that.
Jesus shows us that God has no purpose for injustice nor oppression, for inhospitality nor exploitation or violence. God does, however, have time for each of these matters and calls each of us to do the work of turning; turning from exclusion to inclusion, from oppression to freedom, from discrimination to equality, from greed to generosity, from injustice to justice, from discriminating against God’s LGBTQ children in The United Methodist Church and the world. It is Time!
Like many of you, I’ve been involved in RMN for decades. I recently came across a poem by Marge Piercy I found hopeful. For those of you who find yourself described herein, I am grateful.
I love people who harness them- selves, an ox to a heavy cart,
Who like water buffalo, with massive patience,
Who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
Who do what has to be done, again and again.