Friday, August 10, 2018
Ecclesiastes take nine
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
1. a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
2. a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
3. a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
4. a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
5. a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
6. a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
7. a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-11
The seventh couplet is a struggle. Is there ever a time to hate or for war? Scholars suggest that actually this couplet breaks the mold because it should really read, "A time to love, and a time to hate; a time for peace and a time for war." This would keep the rhythm of couplet where there is a word of unity and then a word of dissonance...a word of hope followed by a word where hope has faded. But rather than reading, "a time for peace and a time for war," the Wisdom writer reverses this. Perhaps because so often those times of hate lead quickly to a time of war...and a time of war struggles to find that time for peace.
Many authors today suggest that what is so troubling about today is how quickly we de-humanize the other person who holds a different opinion. Once we de-humanize someone it is easier to disregard him or her. I recently heard someone say, that if all we do is tolerate a person that is the lowest bar and leaves the least impact. If I tolerate you, when you are no longer here, it really doesn't change me very much. To love someone...to seek your shalom/well-being/peace is the challenge of faith. To love our enemies....to seek the shalom/well-being/peace of those who we disagree with is the Jesus way. To be sure, the church doesn't always get this right. We are quick to seek the shalom/well-being and peace of people who believe like us/vote like us/march in the same protests as us, especially because we can define the other side as "other".
The question for me concerning an action or word is, does this bring more love and peace into the world? Or does it bring more hate and war/violence/division? Brian McLaren has talked about how many of the human kingdoms we build are based on the false promise that everything will be better when we are in power...rather than God's kingdom, which we pray for every Sunday, where everyone can find space/place. We can pour much of our energy into our kingdoms rather than God's.
This final couplet challenges us to see the ways we do bring about more hate and peace than we would ever claim out loud. Recently I was in a worship service where during the prayer of confession we considered the ways we are like Herod, using our power to hurt rather than heal. The ways we discount people, especially people who are prejudice or don't hold same values. The ways we cling to a narrative of might makes right rather than a realm where the differences can be held in tension. The symphony of human life needs more than the violin voice I might add. And the symphony would not be as rich without the cello, even as the sound is drastically different.
I pray you will let this passage continue to sit and simmer in your soul. Go back and re-read the entire passage.
What new insights did you glean over the last ten posts?
Where do you still struggle or push back on the passage?
What questions linger?
And how can we give thanks for what has been rather than point out was wasn't?
May there be more than a trace of grace in such prayerful pondering for you!!