A Time to Say Goodbye

There’s a season for everything

and a time for every matter under the heavens:

a time for giving birth and a time for dying,

a time for planting and a time for uprooting what was planted,

a time for killing and a time for healing,

a time for tearing down and a time for building up,

a time for crying and a time for laughing,

a time for mourning and a time for dancing,

a time for throwing stones and a time for gathering stones,

a time for embracing and a time for avoiding embraces,

a time for searching and a time for losing,

a time for keeping and a time for throwing away,

a time for tearing and a time for repairing,

a time for keeping silent and a time for speaking,

a time for loving and a time for hating,

a time for war and a time for peace.

-Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, CEB translation

Our lives are marked by the changes of the seasons. I don’t mean only winter, summer, spring, and fall. There’s also school and break, work and vacation, childhood, adulthood, parenthood, retirement. There are seasons that are harder to put a name on but that are no less real: seasons of personal growth, of disappointment, of success, of loss. There is, in other words, a season for everything.

This is how it’s been for a long time! We don’t know exactly when Ecclesiastes was written, but we know it’s at least 2200 years old, probably closer to 2500. In a way, it’s rather timeless. We know just as well as the first author that there is a time for silence and a time for speaking, a time for keeping and a time for throwing away, and all the rest. Our lives are full of these changes in season. Now, for Trinity, it is a time for saying goodbye. One day soon, it will be a day to say hello to a new pastor.

Yes, life is and always has been subject to change. In one thing, however, we see that there is no change. In verse 14, the author declares: “I know that whatever God does will last forever; it’s impossible to add to it or take away from it. God has done this so that people are reverent before him.”

Whatever God does lasts forever. God has done some truly amazing things in the years I have been at Trinity, and for the 160 years before I came! Nothing anyone could say or do would diminish God’s accomplishments in the past, or what God will do in future years yet to come. In all this, we humans are filled with awe and reverence for God’s faithfulness. The seasons change; God’s love for us does not.

In closing, I offer two verses of the hymn, “O God Our Help in Ages Past,” as a prayer:

O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, our shelter from the stormy blast, and our eternal home; under the shadow of your throne your saints have dwelt secure. Sufficient is your arm alone, and our defense is sure. Amen.

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