A time for everything “To everything there is a season…” is the famous opening line of chapter 13 of the bible book Ecclesiastes, which also inspired the well-known nineteen sixties pop song Turn! Turn! Turn! by the Byrds. There is a time to mourn, a time to dance.
In my personal situation it is a time to move on and time for new beginnings. As I write this, I am about to say goodbye to many friends at my old church in Tunbridge Wells. I am going to truly miss many of them but in the mean time I can’t wait to be moving to Copthorne. I genuinely look forward to being part of a community that has, in my experience, a very welcoming and unique local identity. I was able to visit the latest Carnival to taste some of Copthorne’s celebrations and generous hospitality. I loved every minute of it, the rock music, the many stands that were on the village green, the classical concert in the church and the many wonderful cakes and cream teas that were served in the Parish Hub.
This reminded me that to celebrate and to feast is not an alien concept in Christianity. Jesus Christ enjoyed and attended many feasts and meals to the extent that He and His followers were questioned by others on the amount of parties they were attending and why they were not fasting instead! Fasting was in those days seen as part of good religious practice. Jesus’ response to these accusations came in the form of a metaphor. He said: “When you’re celebrating a wedding, you don’t skimp on the cake and wine. You feast. Later you may need to pull in your belt, but this isn’t the time. As long as the bride and groom are with you, you have a good time. When the groom is gone, the fasting can begin”. Jesus compares His presence with that of a groom who is present at the wedding.
His presence so to say is Good News and deserves celebration. When He is gone, a time may come when people will be sad and may have to fast.
This is true in life for all of us, there will be times to celebrate and there will be times that we lose appetite, such as when we mourn the loss of loved ones. However, there is something very encouraging about Jesus’ Good News. He also promises his followers that when the time comes that He would leave them that, although they would be sad, He would in the meantime be going to prepare a place for them. A place that would be something like an eternal banquet, a giant wedding feast. A place where they will forever celebrate because that’s what His Father always had in mind for humanity.
The Christian Good News in a nutshell is not just that there is a time for everything which is a reality in this current life, but more importantly it is about a heavenly Father who in history, at one time, lost his children and He wants them back again. And when that happens there will be a large feast. That’s why Jesus came. And that’s always worth a celebration.
As for now, and as for me, I am humbled and excited to take on the new role as vicar of St John’s in Copthorne. I am looking forward serving you, where there will be times of sadness but also times of joy when we can have parties for all those things that are worth celebrating about.