New Year’s Eve December 31, 2021
“About Time” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
Rev. John R. Larson Ascension Lutheran Church Littleton, Colorado
During this month we have done something here at Ascension that very few congregations have ever done. In the same week, two young ladies became two older ladies. First Millie Fitzpatrick, and then three days later, Bernice Arsenault, turned 100 years of age. If I have my math right, those two ladies have lived a combined total of over 73,000 days. And I bet, with both having such good memories, they may still remember each one of them. Maybe.
Time, whether it is the long times of Millie and Bernice, or someone just starting out, is quite amazing. Time is God’s thought and God’s order. In Genesis 1 God put this whole idea of time into His creation. “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.” (Verses 3-5) Later in the chapter we read, “And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years.’” (Verse 14)
Time was God’s creation. Minutes, hours, days, weeks, years – it was God’s mastermind that thought this all through. But today is not just about another year passing and another year beginning. God had much more than just the passing of time in mind when He made it. He had in mind the very purpose and plan of our days. Our text is the very familiar word from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build up, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”
How do you use your time? What impact does this gift have on you and also on others? In the days after Christmas, I e-mailed a few folks and wondered how Christmas was for them and their families. One of those I contacted was Sherry Hitztaler. Her husband, Dave, died in March. This was her first Christmas without him. In her note back to me she said that it was a bittersweet time for the family. She spoke about the chaos in the house on Christmas Eve having the 2 and 3-year grandsons running, and she adds, “and I mean running” around the house.
Christmas Day was much quieter for Sherry. She came with her older grandchildren Reese and Carter to our Columbarium, where Dave is inurned, and wished Dave a blessed Christmas. Then she wrote, “After I dropped the kids off, I took a solitary walk around the lake at Clement Park – a place where Dave and I had often walked when we lived in JeffCo. It was a very symbolic walk for me – alone on Christmas Day and it was okay.”
This wasn’t just the passing of one day to the next for her, it was memorable time – time lived with the pleasure of the past. To me it was a great way to do what God said in Ecclesiastes, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…a time to weep and a time to laugh.”
Time was important to God, not only to set an order to all that we do, but to also bring His saving and redeeming hand to us. Listen to what God did with acting at the right time, “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” (Galatians 4:4-5)
We count all time by the coming of Jesus Christ. All of history is set by His arrival. Nations who do not acknowledge His supremacy and divinity, even people who do not trust Him as their own Savior still use the letters BC and AD. BC – Before Christ. AD – Anno Domini – a Latin word that means In the Year of Our Lord. All time is connected to the coming of Jesus.
For us, our time is not just connected to His coming but to His death and resurrection. Our eternal time, the time we have after our earthly time is over, is secured in Jesus. Here is what Jesus said about eternal time, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26)
I want to know something. How have you done with the time that God has given you so far? When I read the obituaries in the paper I see a phrase that I like. Someone will say about their loved one, “A Life Well Lived.” As a believer in Jesus I understand that to mean that one trusted in God’s love shown in Jesus. They knew Him, believed Him, followed Him. They did God’s will in life. They loved on people and did great things, big and small.
But sometimes we waste our life. God has no place in it. We don’t do His will. We fail to use the gifts He has given us and we do what we shouldn’t do. There is a warning about time, especially as we conclude this year and make plans for the next one. St. Paul sounds like an evangelist when he writes this, “As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says, ‘In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” (II Corinthians 6:1-2)
There is a warning concerning time. Herbert Mueller, a pastor who has entered his eternity, wrote this about God’s warning concerning time, “It’s a warning if you are putting off for some future time anything that has to do with your relationship with God. I can study the Word later. I can repent later. I can apologize to him later. I can always believe more later.” (Concordia Pulpit Resources, Volume 26, Part 1, Series C, Page 56)
Don’t procrastinate. Don’t wait. Repent of your sin. Change your life. Believe in Jesus. Live the right way. Make things right with your family and be the person God wants you to be. “Now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of your salvation.” Paul says in his writing, “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” (Ephesians 4:15-17) Psalm 90, a psalm all about time, tells us, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Verse 12)
There is a divine purpose in the gift of time. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” God’s divine purpose of time was seen in creation. It was seen in the life and ministry of Jesus, our Savior. And time is God’s challenge to us. Use it fully. Use it well. Who knows – maybe God will give you 36,525 days – 100 years of them? What a grand gift. Treasure them. Use them. Bless God and bless others. Amen!!