Sermon by Pastor Tim Woodard
July 12, 2015
“Now Is The Time!”
“Hear now these ancient words as written in the book of Ecclesiastes, chapter 3, verses 1-8.”
1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
7 a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.
“Allow these ancient words, spoken so long ago, to open your heart and your mind to God’s Grace!”
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What a joy this past week as I went to our website and found the powerfully written and the inspiring delivery of this past Sunday’s sermon. The written words, the message, they were delivered with compassion – filling the listener with inspiration! I followed along reading ‘the written on-line sermon’ as Michael delivered the message of the manuscript that Kimberly wrote. My heart skipped a beat as he added a word here and there and rearranged a phrase or two, adding just enough of his personal view of the written to enhance the message, making it just that much more uplifting. What a joy to realize that we have such solid Christian faith alive and vibrant, visibly and noticeably growing within our congregation. And when the delivery of the sermon ended in just a little over eleven minutes and thirty five seconds, I knew the pressure would be on me today to tighten up my typical twenty minute sermon. Thank you Michael and Kimberly for such an inspiring and challenging message to put our faith into action!
Today’s message is meant to punctuate that which you already know, just as last week’s message focused on putting faith, something you already knew about, into motion, activity and action! Today, we emphasis on when and at what time is it suggested that we are meant to go ahead and do – whatever it is – that we are compelled to do! Now is the time! Now is the time for us to boldly go forward with that which we have already learned! In our scripture lesson we are told there is a time for this and a time for that. “A time to be born, and a time to die.” “A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” /Ecclesiastes 3:1-8/ As we reflect on this passage that takes us from the ‘cradle to the grave’ and everything in-between, it needs to resonate in our hearts that the message here, though multifaceted, ought instill in us the importance of fully embracing the time now at hand! Let us not squander it or let it slip away!
This past week was the time my wife and I set aside to make a trip to Atlanta Georgia. We planned it out and the time came and we went. We gathered with other folks like ourselves whom had made similar planes for this past ‘Fourth of July’ weekend. Our plans suggested we expected it to be sunny everyday so that we could walk around Centennial Park near the Georgia Dome, visiting the Coca-Cola plant and other sights and events of interest. But, you know how Mother Nature likes to get in the last word! After a morning of rain, I ran out and scooped up what I thought was a valuable purchase, four umbrellas for Lois and myself, and two of our friends. You already know what happened next, it stopped raining! That evening we walked to the convention center; it was just so beautiful out I left our umbrellas in the hotel! You quested it! On the way back, just as we got past the crowds at the big park where the fireworks display had been, it started to rain. The rain slowly progressed as we walked that last three blocks up the hill to the hotel. Yet, we were able to laugh as we set our cloths on chairs to dry, rubbed our aching feet, knowing that we had put forth our best effort, utilizing the gift, the precious gift of the time at hand. We refused to squander it!
Our scripture passage this morning is used in many ways, most frequently I and countless other pastors have used it as words of comfort during memorial services and funerals. The intent is to help us realize that our time of passing, death, is just as natural as the time of conception and birth. And as we explore the fullness of the passage we see the writer wanted us to realize that all things have their time. Any good painter knows that before you can paint the peak of a mountain you must also lay out the ground work for the valley. What value would laughter be if you have not also experience a moment of tears? What would joy be if you had not also felt sadness? What purpose would a week’s vacation be if you did not have the ongoing ritual of your day-to-day activities such as jobs and responsibilities? The passage also opens up to us the whole concept of the multitude of realities that life presents to us. Would it not be a shame, even a sin, if we did not fully embrace all of this gift of life that is given to us?
When we put the gift of life together with the gift of faith, we begin to realize that the action is about how we fully live in the world; the world in which we exist, realizing that the present moment, of which we are in – is the essence, is the answer, to the proverbial question: when is the right time!? If you find yourself caught up in an evening rain, smile and be grateful you are able to feel the moisture of God’s nourishment touch your skin. When sadness, over the loss of a loved one, rips at your heart, lift up their memories as they touch and flood your emotions, knowing that you were blessed to have been a part of their lives. When your long thought out plans turn into a distant memory, simply allow yourself the opportunity to readjust your hopes and dreams; it is ok to experience something new. Stay open to the possibility that God wants for you to be somewhere, and perhaps touch someone, in a special way, even though you had other plans or desires. Embrace the life that is yours. Apply the faith that leads you ever closer to God. Cherish the gift of life, fully living into the time now at hand!
Our scripture tells us that “for everything there is a season;’ we all know that this is the season of summer vacations. This is the season of summer storms, with all of its wind rain and thunder; all around us lightening fills the skies! Yet, let us not get lost in the storms! We must not forget that all of life is contained within the seasons.
God’s will for each one of us and for this our church is here with us this season. We all have the opportunity to be strengthened by, and to reinforce and fortify: the ministry of this our faith community! All we need do is live into it, knowing that not everyone is called to volunteer in the same way. Some may be moved to write a sermon or deliver it! Perhaps your call is to paint a wall of our sanctuary, or mow a section of our expansive landscape. Others are called to sing in our vocal group, while still others are more tailored for the harmony of our traditional hymns – sung by our choir. Whether you serve on a board, teach Sunday school or answer phones this season, trust that God will be with you all the way, no matter how the event or happening turns out.
The key is to know that this is the time. Don’t wait till next season or even next week or tomorrow. Today is the time, now is the time!
Remember always, whether the moments of life confront you or comfort you, accept the reality of life, trusting that your faith, faith that is truly a gift, will carry you through. Trust that God has a purpose and a plan for you. Make this moment a time to seek out God’s will. Keep and cherish the life that you have been given, even with all the broken expectations you have placed upon it. Now is the time, this very moment is the opportunity to fully embrace the love of God that flows in you, fueling your life, fueling your faith, thereby allowing you to live fully into the life God has given you here and now!