Sermon: A time for everything
This sermon is for a combined service of baptism for one twin and a funeral for her sister who died shortly after birth.
Old Testament – Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (For everything there is a season)
1 For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill and a time to heal; a time to break down and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance;
5 a time to throw away stones and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek and a time to lose; a time to keep and a time to throw away;
7 a time to tear and a time to sew; a time to keep silent and a time to speak;
8 a time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace.
Psalm – 42:1-7 (As the deer)
1 As the deer longs for the water-brooks, *
so longs my soul for you, O God.
2 My soul is athirst for God, athirst for the living God; *
when shall I come to appear before the presence of God?
3 My tears have been my food day and night, *
while all day long they say to me,
“Where now is your God?”
4 I pour out my soul when I think on these things; *
how I went with the multitude and led them into the
house of God,
5 With the voice of praise and thanksgiving, *
among those who keep holy-day.
6 Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul? *
and why are you so disquieted within me?
7 Put your trust in God; *
for I will yet give thanks to him,
who is the help of my countenance, and my God.
New Testament – 1 John 3:1-2 (See what love the Father has given us)
1 See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God, and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.
Gospel – Mark 10:13-16 (Let the little children come to me)
13 People were bringing children to him in order that he might touch them, and the disciples spoke sternly to them. 14 But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not stop them, for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. 15 Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.
There is a time for everything. There is a time to be joyful and there is a time to mourn. But what about today? This is the time for everything. This is the time to be joyful AND this is the time to mourn. This is the time for everything all at once. I don’t know if that’s what the author of Eccelsiates meant. I think people usually try to make each moment of time be for just one thing. Baptisms and first birthdays are for joy. Funerals and first anniversaries of a death are for grief. What do we do with today? Today is all of those things. What is this the time for?
This is always the time to let the little children come to Jesus. The kingdom of God belongs to such as them. Jesus took the children in his arms and laid his hands on them and blessed them. Today we are welcoming this little one into the household of God in baptism. Her sister is already with Jesus in eternal life. God’s arms are always open to welcome and bless his children. It is always time for Jesus to welcome his children into the kingdom of God.
We sometimes talk about God’s kingdom as being already and not yet at the same time. God’s kingdom is already accessible. “Beloved, we are God’s children now,” says 1 John. The kingdom of God belongs to such as these. The kingdom of God already belongs to God’s children. This is already the time for God’s kingdom. That is what we are welcoming this little one into today. That kingdom of God, the family of the church, that is already accessible to us.
But it is not yet the time for everything to be revealed. What we will be in eternal life has not yet been revealed. R. is already with God in eternal life. We don’t know yet what that’s like. Already and not yet at the same time. This is the time for both already and not yet.
This is the time to let the little children come to Jesus. This is the time for the kingdom of God. This is the time to rejoice that this little one is joining the household of God in baptism. This is the time to rejoice that her sister is already with Jesus in eternal life. This is the time to rejoice that as children of God, the kingdom of God belongs to us already.
And this is also the time to mourn that we are separated from R. by death. This is not yet the time when eternal life is revealed to us.
Jesus has already conquered death through his own death and resurrection. The sting of death has already been taken away. God’s kingdom already belongs to R. God’s kingdom already belongs to us. And yet. We are here in this time. This time that is not yet eternal life.
This is a time for already and for not yet. This is a time for Jesus to welcome all of God’s children into God’s already-not-yet kingdom. This is a time for us join together with the children of God who have already lived and with those who have not yet been born. This is a time where we join together as the household of God to be joyful and to grieve. There is a time for everything. This is a time for everything. Amen