A Time for Everything - Reservoir Church
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A Time for Everything

Lydia Shiu

Jul 25, 2021

For this week’s Events and Happenings, click “Download PDF.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 

1 There is a time for everything,

    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

2     a time to be born and a time to die,

    a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3     a time to kill and a time to heal,

    a time to tear down and a time to build,

4     a time to weep and a time to laugh,

    a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5     a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

6     a time to search and a time to give up,

    a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7     a time to tear and a time to mend,

    a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8     a time to love and a time to hate,

    a time for war and a time for peace.

Let me pray for us:

God of the beginning and the End, Alpha and Omega, of yin and yang, everything is from you. We come into this place from many varied experiences. Our busy week, our worried minds, our aching bodies. Some of us feeling weak and tender, some of us trekking on cause we’re strong, some of us not sure what we’re doing, numb, or indifferent. Wherever we are this morning, God I pray that you meet us there, in each of our own unique places. For there is no place that is hidden from you. Look upon us with grace and convince us of your love, no matter what we may be going through. Would you do that for us now, and pour down your spirit and cover us we pray, in Jesus name Amen. 

I was at Home Depot the other day. I like to go check out the outdoor garden area, where there’s all different kinds of plants and flowers. When all of a sudden I started hearing a man yelling, “I’m not buying that!” I looked over, a man was following a woman, probably his wife, with a loud voice for the whole garden to hear, “You and your mom look at the internet and get this idea but it’s not going to look like that. I’m not spending more money on something you guys think you can do.”

I could tell she was looking around, looking at her phone, looking at the flowers, and maybe even replying softly, but I couldn’t hear. He goes on, “You don’t know how to do it! It’s not going to turn out like what you think it’s going to turn out!” I was trying not to look, but listening in at the drama unfolding before me. 

And then I was at Costco not too long ago, similar thing. A man points to the toothpaste and says, “It’s a good deal!” The woman walks away in a huff, turns around and says, “I don’t like that one!” The man says, “I like it!” The woman says, “I don’t like it!” The man says, “Well I can’t afford the one you like so I’m getting this one!” I stared at the shampoo on the other side of the aisle, acting like I’m like really looking at it, but I wasn’t looking at it, I was looking and listening to them.

 It’s tough these days. And these people, fighting in Home Depot and Costco, yelling in public for the world to hear. I almost get it. People are angsty these days. I mean, as we should be cause it’s been a really tough last few years. We lost so much control and things happened, scary things happened around us that we couldn’t do anything about. Vacations and celebrations canceled. Can’t see friends. Can’t go to restaurants. You can’t hug. I mean what’s the point of even smiling under your mask!

I recently read a Washington post article titled: “After customers drove staff to tears, a restaurant closed to give employees a ‘day of kindness’”

It says

An “astronomical influx” of customers had been screaming at employees, dangling legal threats and driving team members to tears

the owners wrote on Facebook.

Apt joins a slew of restaurants across the country that have reported more frequent mistreatment in recent weeks. As customers clamor to resume their pre-pandemic lives, some have lashed out at an industry suffering from a shortage of workers, more costly ingredients and supply-chain glitches. Scrambling to stay afloat, overworked staff members often find themselves on the other side of customers’ irritation.”

When I read this text from Ecclesiastes today saying,

a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing 

Ugh, dude! I’m sorry but I really do not like this time of refraining from embracing. And honestly, I want to act up a bit too, right here for church! Just break down before y’all cause I miss y’all, And I don’t want to elbow bump! I want to hug! 

As I read this text, I was struck by how accepting it was, of all that could be going on and that’s why I want to share it with you today. It says there’s a time for everything. EVERYTHING! Really? No… it must not be true, cause there’s things you should do and things you shouldn’t do. That’s what I learned growing up. There’s good things and there’s bad things. This text was naming line by line, all the things, all the permissible and appropriate things. But it was interesting to me how I reacted to this list. It was almost like a visceral, knee jerk reaction, yes, no, good, bad, of course, oh no no how could this be okay? 

I don’t know how it happened but somewhere along the way we did this with Christian theology and ethics too. This binary thinking. This “moral” thinking, of forever categorizing what is good and what is bad. And so here’s how I read this text:

 a time to be born, good, and a time to die, 


    a time to plant, yes, and a time to uproot,

maybe sometimes

3     a time to kill,

uh really? and

a time to heal,

oh yes always more healing

    a time to tear down,

depends on what you’re tearing down and

a time to build,

yup build up and grow, expand

4     a time to weep,

ok well yes but not too much, and

a time to laugh,


    a time to mourn,

yes but not like too long, and

a time to dance,


5     a time to scatter stones,

I guess, and

a time to gather them,

yes gather as much stones as possible

    a time to embrace,

oh of course, it’s always good to embrace! and

a time to refrain from embracing,

oh wow, that’s what we just went through with covid and it was so hard!

6     a time to search and a time to give up, 

no you never give up!

    a time to keep and a time to throw away,

no you always keep you don’t throw away things!

7     a time to tear and a time to mend,

no no you don’t tear, you MEND

    a time to be silent and a time to speak,

no don’t be silent SPEAK UP!

8     a time to love and a time to hate,

what you can’t hate, ever!

    a time for war and a time for peace,

oh no…. No war. 

Now you’ve been invited to my inner dialogue as I read the Bible. But it was almost like, so hard for me to accept this very message this text was saying, that there is a time for everything. And I sat there looking at this text thinking, could this really be true? 

I’ve been so used to binary thinking of things as good or bad. Well the reality is life is more complicated than that. The reality is, sometimes something can be good in one context but you do the same thing in another context and it can be bad. 

There’s a show on Netflix called Working Moms, it’s funny. The mommy group has conversations like this. One mom says, “So apparently sharing is not a thing anymore?” Another mom says, “I don’t tell my kid to share. She can share if she wants to, and not share if she doesn’t want to.”

Whaaat? I did NOT grow up hearing that. You ALWAYS share! But I get it, why did we tell kids to always share before? Some things are yours and yours only and they can feel ownership of it. 

Like it’s not always good to share, maybe it’s not always good to be nice. Or embrace, or heal. Maybe there’s time to be silent. Maybe there’s time to speak up and tear things down. 

I think Jesus did this sort of expanding our minds about what’s right and wrong. The things that the religious leaders had taught and set, you can’t do this on the sabbath, you can’t worship with these people, you should only do this, I mean Jesus turned it all upside down and all around. I mean he always raises the bar, don’t commit adultery? Don’t even look at a woman with a lusting heart. You want to be good? Give all your money away. I mean I think it’s how some must feel these days, what there’s no male and female and now it’s a spectrum of gender whaaat? Yeah. Life is not binary. Don’t put people into boxes. 

And I think we’ve done this with our modern day christianity too. We attached certain moral teachings to how you’re supposed to be, nice, and successful, and happy, and good. Like if you believe in Jesus, you’ll always be filled with joy. Honestly, sometimes I think, being a Christian, can be more disruptive to my life than productive.

There’s more mourning than laughter. I don’t always have to mend and keep, but I was thinking the other day, how covid impacted the church, and I thought, well there are some things that we are used to doing in church that might need to die. There are relationships that maybe need to be cut off, and offended, and strained for it to bring justice rather than for the sake of peace and reconciliation. 

The thing is, none of us know and can say which is needed for which at what time. And honestly, we’re not supposed to tell each other what we’re supposed to do, but only create the space to see it through and be there right next to them no matter what they are going through without judgement. Can we lower the expectation of what we’re SUPPOSED to do, because we don’t really know sometimes? 

Sometimes I feel like we’re trying so hard to be “good”, trying so hard to be “okay”, that we dont’ give space to what actually NEEDS to happen, which is maybe, be NOT Okay. Maybe it’s time to “not be okay” and that’s okay. I mean what does it even mean to go back to normal? I don’t know what normal is these days! And if I’m being honest, I don’t even know what time it is for me.

IS it time for me to mourn? Is it time for me to celebrate? Is it time to build or tear down? I don’t even know that! What time is it? Like literally, I hadn’t been in my office so long that when I came back, I kept looking at the wall clock that’s out of battery and frozen in time, and wonder, 8:25… that can’t be right… ugh I don’t have time right now to change that battery. 

What time is it for you? Do you even have a moment to realize what you really need right now? To discern what the time really calls for? Or do you feel guilty or unsure about what you need? Or you’re not sure if God approves. Well, let me remind you, our text tells us today, there is time for everything. God see it, God see you. Do you need time to let things die? To uproot, to kill, to tear down? Do you need time to weep, mourn, and scatter stones? God says okay. I’m here with you. Let’s do it together. 

And our church, we don’t have to have it all together to come together. We come together to do the hard stuff together. To come together to say, “this stuff is hard to believe!” or “I’m confused about my life!” “I don’t know what I’m doing.” “I’m a hot mess.” “I think I’m making a mistake.” Are we willing to make space and time for each other to do that for one another? 

Whatever you may be going through right now, take the time. There is time for everything. Even what you’re going through. Identity crisis, depression, divorce, feeling ungrateful, distancing yourself from your friends, throwing away your career you’ve built… There is time for everything… If we don’t give time to such things, we’ll never really know if our confidence, joy, marriage, gratitude, friendship, career or whatever else is really true either. God is big enough. There is time for everything. 

Let me pray for us. 

Jesus, show the expansive view of life. Teach us to see that your love seeps into everything, everything we’re going through big and small, the tough and easy, the good and the bad. Would you invite us to that space and time to see how big and great and vast your love is for us, we pray, in your name Amen.