During seasons of transition, one of the passages of scripture that many find comforting is from Ecclesiastes 3. I’ve been asked to read it at weddings and funerals, and was once invited by a Confirmation class to use it as the text for the sermon on the day those youth joined the church. Those of a certain age remember its words set to music by Pete Seeger’s “To Everything There Is a Season” with his folk song refrain, Turn, turn, turn, which rose to the top of the music charts when The Byrds recorded it in 1965.
The words and their poetic rhythm are a comforting reminder that all of time is in the hands of God:
For everything there is a season,
and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted…
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak…
Summertime is naturally a season of transition as the rhythms of family life and school life change, and as people come and go for celebrations, vacations and reunions. Likewise the church’s program year shifts into a new gear. Some things like classes and weekday programs slow down, and other things like Vacation Bible Camp, youth mission trips and camps shift into high gear. Thankfully, worship is the constant center of gravity that brings us together and sends us forth again.
This summer, one of our congregation’s big transitions is the departure of Brian Ballard as our Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care and Senior Adults. This Sunday, June 4, we will hold a Congregational Meeting after the 10:00 a.m. worship service to act on his request to dissolve his pastoral relationship with BMPC. Fortunately, we will have until July 21 to say our farewells and offer our grateful support for his transition back to Princeton Theological Seminary to pursue further graduate study.
While every pastoral transition feels like a loss, we face them with confidence that, for everything there is a season, and we can trust that God is holding Brian, his family and our church family in God’s holy hands. While God has given us a grateful sense of what has been, God also has blessed us all with a sense of the future filled with hope and promise.