Monday, December 17, 2012

For everything, there is a season

For many of us, this is a time to mourn.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-11, verse by verse:(Revised Standard Version)
  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 cast 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 cast away;
  7. a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
  8. a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.
  9. What gain has the worker from his toil?
  10. I have seen the business that God has given to the sons of men to be busy with.
  11. He has made everything beautiful in its time; also he has put eternity into man's mind, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.       

This is not the right time to talk about politics.  After my wife died, I kept a handkerchief in my pants pocket for a year because that's how long I cried openly and on short notice.  The grief that people feel due to the murders in Connecticut will not go away in a few days.

I must say, though, that governmental policies are made by politicians.  Members of Congress express their views by passing legislation that they hope will be enacted into law by the signature of the President.  They also hope that the laws, once passed, will not be modified or nullified by decisions of the Supreme Court.  That is the way our government works.

The laws of this country can encourage people to take certain actions that Congress and the President wants to see happen, by means of favorable tax treatment, few regulations on how the citizens of this nation live our lives, low-interest loans, and outright grants.  Laws can also discourage people from taking actions by means of unfavorable tax treatment, strict regulations, and other laws that make certain actions criminal, punishable by fines and prison time.

Our country's laws currently encourage people to give money to churches, synagogs, temples, mosques, and other places where faithful and loving people worship God.  When last Friday's mass-murder is a distant memory, if there has been no other recent mass-murder, this policy may be questioned.  Some members of Congress, perhaps those who do not worship God very often, may try to reduce the incentive for Americans to donate money to a place for worshiping God through a reduction in the tax deduction for charitable donations.  That would reduce the incentive for people to give money to churches of every description.

Any law that discourages people from supporting God and his work should be avoided, because it is at the times when large numbers of people find their own limits as human beings that we seek the wisdom, the strength, and the open arms of God.  His goals are more easily accomplished when the policies of America's government support religion and the people who work in this nation's churches, synagogs, temples, and mosques.

The United States Constitution was not written to discourage anybody from worshiping God.  In fact, the very first sentence in the very first amendment explicitly says that the Congress cannot pass one law that prohibits the "free exercise" of anyone's religion.  Let the wisdom of our nation's founders guide us two centuries later, because it is partially because of their wisdom that this nation has been here for two centuries.

In the meantime, if any of you find me, and I see tears in your eyes, I will come to you with open arms, I will place your head gently on my shoulder, and I will hold your head there until you finish crying.  That's what my late wife did for me, time and time again.  I learned the best way to comfort people from her, and now that she is in Heaven, I offer you the same comfort that she taught to me by her own example.

The Shoulder Test

Thank you, God, for loving us, and please continue to comfort the grieving.  We will need their comfort as well as yours someday.