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Speaking to the Soul: What Time is It?

Speaking to the Soul: What Time is It?

Week of Proper 4, Year Two

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 119:49-72 (morning) // 49, [53] (evening)

Ecclesiastes 3:1-15

Galatians 2:11-21

Matthew 14:1-12

One of the most important questions in the life of faith might simply be, “What time is it?” Today’s first reading declines to settle many of the questions that have seemed so important to faithful people: Should we pray in silence, or speak in tongues? Should we maintain a traditional practice, or give it up? Should we enter this war, or should we never kill or wound others? The answer to all of these questions is simply, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”

This Scripture passage undermines all either / or thinking. It refuses to give us clear answers that we must simply hear and obey. Rather, this text places enormous trust in human beings and our powers of discernment. Instead of explaining away our grief or proscribing forms of fun, it tells us there is “a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” Instead of dictating rules about intimacy, it says there is “a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.” Instead of defining practices and institutions that must endure unchanged forever, it reminds us that there is “a time to keep, and a time to throw away.” Instead of telling us what to say, the passage lets us know that there is “a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.”

Furthermore, there is even “a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.” While I tend to think human beings err much too frequently toward hatred and war, this passage does give us permission to engage realistically with the dangers and hostilities that we may encounter in this world and in our personal relationships. The main task of faith, then, is to be as worthy as we can of the trust placed in us. God trusts us to dance, to embrace, to throw away, to fight, to heal, to love, and to engage as fully as we can with the realities we face each day. We just have to do our best, with God’s help, to get the time right.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as Priest Associate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and assists with adult formation and campus ministry at St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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