Revd Jackie

Rev. Jackie Bullen

A Time for Everything

If you asked most people to quote something from the Bible and more particularly from the Book of Ecclesiastes, it would be my guess that many would decline the invitation.

It is an interesting book containing the writings of someone who could on one hand be described as cynical and tired and yet it is interspersed with moments of humour, glimpses of pathos, as well as passages of insightful wisdom.

Over the course of the book, the writer, an unknown preacher, teacher or king explores the meaning of life. He reflects on wisdom and its use, he compares youth and old age, and in the third chapter he records some lines of near poetry that rather surprisingly became a huge international hit for the American folk rock group The Byrds in 1965.

The song, “Turn Turn Turn”, takes its lyrics near enough word for word from Ecclesiastes.

Opening with ‘To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven’ and continuing on listing events and happenings that occur over the course of a life and contrasting them with their opposites, the author’s final flourish is ‘a time for war, and a time for peace’.

It seems that the writer sees war as an inevitable part of the human condition, just as elsewhere he speaks of other unavoidable facts of life - ‘there is a time to live and a time to die.’

There will be peace. There will be war. It’s going to happen, and there's nothing we can do about it.

Certainly even the most cursory glance at the pages of a history book would lead to the conclusion that humankind’s major instinct is to fight. As technology improves different and more efficient ways are invented to kill more and more people.

Although the individual stories of heroism and sacrifice can be drowned out by the extraordinary statistics of deaths and injuries, our responsibility as inheritors of a country where freedom has been bought at a tremendous price is significant.

In the same passage from the Bible, the writer of Ecclesiastes also says ‘there is a time to kill and a time to heal; a time to keep silent, and a time to speak.’

As we commemorate the end of the First World War 100 years ago, the time to kill is over, The time to be silent is important so long as it is a mark of respect and not because we are indifferent to the effects of war. Remaining silent rather than speaking out against the atrocities of war is not acceptable any more.

Now is our time to speak up for those who still are affected by conflict in our world.

Now is our time to bring healing to relationships broken and shattered by war.

Now is our time to pray that the God of peace will rule in our lives, and in those of the whole of his creation.