To everything there is a season
And a time for every purpose under heaven.
I learned those words from Pete Seeger’s song Turn! Turn! Turn!
before I ever knew they were in the Bible.
Many of those times of our lives listed in these verses are fluid.
We move back and forth between…
Planting and sowing.
Rending and tearing.
War and peace.
Those moments overlap and ebb and flow so we don’t notice or name when one ends and the other begins.
The wonder of birth and the mystery and sadness of death.
Become carved in stone.
Or in our heart, mind and soul.
For John it was June 2, 1935.
And, May 21, 2018.
A time to be born and a time to die.
Over the last couple of days, knowing both you and I were going to be here today, I have sat with these words from Ecclesiastes and allowed them to be a part of my thinking and praying and being wondering what they might have to say to us in a moment like this. As I reflected on these verses I remembered a simple book that was given to me a number of years ago. The title of the book was The Dash. As in that simple line between the date on which we were born and the date on which we die. A simple line which represents the entirety of our life. Those everyday moments and days and years which add up to a lifetime. Today, we gather to remember and to celebrate and to give thanks for that dash that represents John’s life. But no matter how well we remember or what stories we share, we will only scratch the surface of that dash. His life.
But, this is also a moment, I think, to wonder about you and me?
There is some part of moments like this when we gather to remember and to celebrate the life of someone we knew and loved and respected which also causes us step back and consider our own lives.
Who we are?
What is important?
What values will shape and guide your life each and every day.
Maybe this is one of those moments.
Is still being written.
By the choices we make.
By the values by which we live.
By those concerns we stand up for and speak up for and give some portion of our lives to.
What would you like your dash to say?
The Psalmist wrote:
For all our days pass away.
Our years come to an end like a sigh.
The days of our lives are seventy years.
Or perhaps eighty if we are strong.
And, then this line…
So teach us to number our days that we might gain heart of wisdom.
As we remember and celebrate and give thanks for the life and witness of John, may we also be mindful of the days of our lives and use them well so when our time comes and the second date is added to the right side of the dash, that we have left the world God has entrusted to our care and keeping better because of our presence and work in it.