One of the blessings of ministry — and of life, if we’re paying attention — is how fortunate we are to share our journey with so many others. Sometimes, we travel together a long way. Sometimes we meet at a particular juncture, then move on again, each in our own direction. Either way, when we’re present to the experience, it can transform us in rich and wondrous ways.
Such was the case for me recently when I received a referral from a colleague to officiate a funeral. I had never met the deceased or her family before. She was the friend of someone my colleague knew. The service turnaround was quick. It was Wednesday evening, the family was arriving in town on Thursday morning, and they wanted to celebrate her life on Friday afternoon.
As we planned the service, I learned about this woman’s abiding faith, her devotion to God, her love for her family and friends, her longing for justice for all people, and her zest for life. I heard about how she called everyone in the family on their birthday to sing to them and how often it was off-key. I discovered that she served Kentucky Fried Chicken at an important family event and got caught trying to pass it off as her own recipe.
As I perused my notes and contemplated how to tell her story, I realized the depth of her faith and strength as she lived each season of her life, including her preparation for death. And I turned to Ecclesiastes 3:1-9:
To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die. A time to plant, and a time to harvest what is planted. . . . A time to break down, and a time to build up. A time to weep, and a time to laugh. A time to mourn, and a time to dance. . . . A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing. A time to get, and a time to lose. . . . . A time to be silent, and a time to speak. A time of love, and a time of hate. A time of war, and a time of peace.
I learn much on my journey through ministry, and one thing is clear: To everything, there is a season. Some we enjoy, and some we don’t. Yet, if we’re aware of what’s occurring — a child being born; a loved one dying; one team reaching the playoffs at another’s expense; a dispute settled; a crop planted, then harvested later — we remember that life vibrates in us, as us, in the celebrations as much as in the sorrows. We discover, on the way, that no one really cares who fried the chicken. What we remember is that in at least one season, we ate the chicken together.
© 2016 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks. All rights reserved.