Seasons of Our Lives
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SERMON: Seasons of Our Lives
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Those are the words of the preacher in the book of Ecclesiastes. Since we are worshipping on the first Sunday in the year 2009, this is a time for new beginnings, a time to say goodbye to the past year and welcome the new one.
Life is seasonal. It is constantly changing from one extreme to the other; love and hate, war and peace or birth and death. No matter how hard we try to keep things the same we can’t avoid the fact that the pendulum of life is constantly swinging.
Last week we spent some time in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. When you are by the ocean you are keenly aware of the tides. At high tide there is little room to walk along the shoreline. But at low tide, the beach is over 100 yards wide. The ebb and flow of the tides remind us that life is much the same. We are powerless to control the movement of the tides just as we are powerless to control the weather or the changing seasons. All we can do is adapt to the changing times.
That being said, we still have the freedom to make choices. Take for example what is happening in Myrtle Beach. While we were there the beach was in the process of being restored. Over the years the ocean has eroded much of the sand from the beaches and South Carolina is spending millions of dollars to pay a contractor to pump sand from the ocean back to the beaches. We watched as huge machines moved sand back to the beach. It is a costly venture but essential since the area depends on the beaches for its economy.
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We can’t change the seasons of life, but we can make decisions that will affect how we live in those seasons. The beginning of a new year provides an opportunity for us to start over. Our daily lives include many chores, things like taking out the trash, which we do at approximately the same time every week. This is the perfect time to throw out the trash in our lives. Perhaps you need to let go of some grudge against another person. Perhaps you are harboring guilt feelings for some mistake that was made in the past year. The good news is that God forgives us and wants us to begin our lives anew.
It is also the perfect time to rid our lives of those things that take up space. The preacher in Ecclesiastes wants us to be happy, “to enjoy ourselves as long as we live.” I believe happiness is possible when we resolve to let go of those things that hold us back. Letting go is not easy, however we can replace those things in our lives that can enable us to move forward. Being more adventurous, learning new skills or associating with positive people can help improve our lives. To achieve that happiness we can make resolutions which create a sense of accountability and personal goals.
The beginning of a new year provides an opportunity to be more spiritual. Do you take time to pray on a daily basis? Are you setting aside time for meditation and reflection? Are you expanding your horizons and taking advantage of opportunities?
One of the things that vacations do for me is that they give me the opportunity to read. I have been reading “Outliers,” by Malcolm Gladwell. In his book he tells about the small town of Roseta, Pennsylvania. In Roseta there was no suicide, no alcoholism, no drug addiction and very little crime and no one was on welfare. A man by the name of Stewart Wolf decided to investigate along with a research team from the University of Oklahoma. They discovered that no one under the age of fifty had ever died of a heart attack. For men over the age of 65, the rate of heart disease was less than half of the rate in the rest of the US. But their research indicated that the people of Roseta did not eat differently than anyone else. Their smoking and drinking habits were also about the same as the rest of the nation. They researched their ancestry but could find nothing that contributed to the well-being of the people of Roseta.
After weeks of study Wolf and his associates discovered that there were some unique characteristics which enabled the town of Roseta to be a wonderful place to live. They found that the townspeople of Roseta visited one another. When they passed people on the street they took time to chat. They often cooked for each other in their back yards. Many homes had three generations living under the same roof. Grandparents were highly respected in the town. Everyone went to mass which gave the people of Roseta a unifying and calming effect. There was also an egalitarian ethos which discouraged the wealthy from flaunting their success and those who were unsuccessful were helped with their failures. The Rosetans were healthy because they had a sense of community. They looked beyond the individual. In other words, the people of Roseta made a conscious decision to care for one another and make worship a central part of their lives.
This is the season to make decisions that will enhance our spiritual well-being. There is a time for endings and a time for new beginnings. There is a time to retreat and a time for adventure. The seasons of our lives can be more fulfilling and we will lead happier lives when we remember the words of the preacher in Ecclesiastes.
Like the people of Myrtle Beach who are constantly challenged by the sea we too can make decisions that will improve our communities. Like the people of Roseta, our lives will be enriched when we truly care about one another and make worship an essential weekly season of our lives.
Copyright 2009, Keith Wagner. Used by permission.