For Everything There is a Season
3: “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.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NRSV)
This morning I am thinking about the clergy in our Conference who are beginning new appointments on July 1, 2021. For many of the clergy moving this year, it means a physical move – which means packing and loading onto a moving truck and then unpacking – and basically living in the midst of cardboard boxes for weeks on end! Trust me, I know – Keith and I have moved 6 times in the 33 years we have been married!
In the past couple of months, Keith and I have helped two friends move into new residences. This morning, I am very aware that I helped one of those friends over the past weekend – the aches and pains are a vivid reminder! Yet, I am sure that my aches and pains pale in comparison to my friend’s – I was blessed to go home to a box-free house (except for the ones stored in the attic for the next move!) and sleep in a settled house. It will be quite a while until my friend experiences that feeling!
As the writer in Ecclesiastes reminds us, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”
In our United Methodist connection, there is an annual season of moving. Dozens of clergy in our Conference are moving to new parsonages and churches, learning new names and traditions, adjusting to new neighborhoods and schools – continuing in service, but starting anew! As well, hundreds of laity are welcoming a new person (and perhaps a spouse or family) into their faith community, wondering how the new pastor will lead them, what will stay the same and what will change, whether or not this new faith leader will strengthen their faith in Jesus.
For both clergy and laity, it is a strange season of anxiety and hope, joy and sorrow, promise and apprehension - yet, it is a familiar season in the life of our Conference, part of the rhythm of life for Western Pennsylvania United Methodists. And like all other seasons in our life, God is with all those who are moving or welcoming new pastor. God never abandons or forsakes us. Even though the seasons change, even though we relocate or start a new job or start a new chapter in our lives, “the best of all is…God is with us!”
My invitation to you today is to pray for the clergy who are moving to new appointments and for the churches who are receiving them.
Pray for rest and encouragement and strength for the clergy as they live in a sea of boxes for a time and adjust to a new place to live and serve. Pray for peace and hope and support for the laity as they welcome a new pastor and form new partnerships in ministry. Pray that God’s presence will be powerful and transforming in this season of change!