To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven
Written by Pete Seeger in the late 1950s, the song, Turn, Turn, Turn was recorded by several artists with limited success. It wasn’t until the band, the Byrds, released their version that the song became an international hit, reaching number one on the Billboard Top 100 on December 4, 1965.
While the chorus is listed above, the verses are taken out of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. The scripture writer lists out 14 experiences coupled with their opposites – a time to be born and time to die; a time to weep and time to laugh, and so forth. He argues that God “has made everything suitable for its time.”
The author, Qoheleth, is a bit of an anomaly in our scriptures. Considered “wisdom” literature, this book presents a very practical perspective on understanding life in the context of our relationship with God. He recognized that the people of his day were seeking fulfillment in their lives and grasping at all they could think to grasp hold of in their efforts to find it – and try to keep it. He summarizes such pursuits this way: all is vanity and a chasing after wind.
Once I get past having the song playing in my head and really stop to let the words speak, to step back to consider the purpose of the book, I am absolutely struck by how profound this author truly is in his thinking.
Consider our current circumstances. It is rare that one story stays as the top story for longer than 24 hours. Ukraine, the Supreme Court, the January 6 hearing, inflation and jobs reports, primary elections, COVID, the new Global Methodist Church, the stock market. We have so much that we cannot control happening in our lives and in our world. Naturally, we want to get our bearings, find some way to exert some modicum of control over some aspect of our lives. We rely on ourselves and our logical reasoning
skills. And we are chasing after wind.
I am not suggesting that we are not called to stand up against injustice and oppression. The recognition that there are times for various experiences does not mean we are called to sit idly by and wait until a new time arises. It simply means that we are going to face a wide range of experiences in our lives and fretting over them is not helpful.
As the author reminds us, God has made everything suitable for its time meaning God has equipped us to live into those experiences together. We were not created to engage with life on our own – no matter how independent we assume we are (or want to be). There is a strong thread throughout our scriptures calling on the people to come together, to be unified, to live in mutually interdependent ways.
When we join hands and stand together, we are strengthened for the times we face, especially for seasons such as this one. Apart, or trusting in our own self-sufficiency, we just end up chasing the wind. But together? Together we can move mountains.
(Bonus for those who made it to the end and want to take part in a brief experiment! I gave you one song at the beginning. In the comments below, share the title and artist of any other songs that came to mind for you. I imagine we’ll have a pretty extensive playlist by the time we work together on this!)