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Sermon: December 30, 2018

Ecclesiastes 3: 1- 8

Here and There

Years ago, I saw a segment of Sesame Street where Bert and Ernie were teaching children the difference between ‘here’ and ‘there’’. Bert was ‘here’ and Ernie was ‘there’’. Bert wanted to be ‘there’’ with Ernie. But every time Bert got to Ernie he was not ‘there’ – he was ‘here’. So Bert would again go to where Ernie had gone and make another attempt to be ‘there’ – but he never got ‘there’ – because he was always ‘here’.

We, humans do exactly the same thing: we are ‘here’ and constantly trying to get ‘there;’ we try and live ‘there’ when we are ‘here’.

Ask a 14 year old what’s on their mind…they are imagining what it will be like to be 16 so they can drive a car.

Ask a 16 year old where their mind is…turning 18 so they can go to college and not have Mom & Dad make the rules.

Ask an 18 year old where their mind is…turning 21 so they can buy beer.

Ask a 21 year old where their mind is…finishing college and getting a good job.

And so it goes all through life until we’ve missed every ‘here’ because we’re trying to get ‘there,’ wherever ‘there’ may be.

King Solomon said, “For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven.

Sometimes we know there is a time for every matter yet most of us don’t want to wait for that time: the God ordained time. We want what is ‘there’ while we are still ‘here’. But when I am ‘here’ it is not time for what is ‘there’. When I am ‘here’ it is time for what is ‘here’, today. When I am ‘here’ – I am ready for this moment of my life.

Here we are at the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019 – we are about to begin a new time. What is here for us in 2019? It’s different for everyone.

William Penn, said, “Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.”

We waste time.

We spend time.

We live as if we have all the time in the world.

And then we get to crunch time: that time when we know we are out of time – we are leaving ‘here’ for ‘there’ – there, in this case, being eternity. And then:

We try to borrow time.

We try to buy time.

But we are out of time.

I have sat with many, many people as they moved from this earth to eternity. The number one regret I hear is: I wish I had spent more time with my family – I wish I hadn’t spent so much time at work – I wish I had been a better wife or husband or parent or friend. The number 2 regret: I wish I had gone to church more often, I wish I had taken my faith more serious, I wish I was a better Christian.

The biggest regret people have is about the way they spent time. If given a chance to spend their time differently – they would make different choices. They want a do-over. For those folks, they are ‘there’ and they can never be ‘here’ again.

Time is a very limited commodity. From the day we are born we have a finite number of days and hours and minutes to live. Time is precious, yet we don’t realize how precious until we recognize that our time ‘here’ is limited and we’re about to be ‘there.’

I was told once the most valuable thing on earth were moon rocks because there are so few and non-reproducible; there is a very limited supply. But I can tell you, with absolute certainty, there are people who would trade all the rocks on the moon for more time; for a chance to do life over and spend their time differently: they are ‘there’ and want to be ’here.’

But none of us get more time. Even though we may spend time just as we spend money – we cannot earn time as we earn money. Once you spend time it’s gone and it never comes back.

I tell you all that – to tell you this: don’t live in such a manner that you die filled with regrets. Don’t do it. Don’t allow the things of this world: money, work, play, possessions, to have first place in your life.

Don’t live your life trying to get ‘there’ wherever ‘there’ might be. Today we are ‘here’. Regardless of where you are in life, you can’t get ‘there’ – you’re always going to be ‘here’. There was a time when you dreamed of being ‘here’. So enjoy ‘here’.

Enjoy what possessions you have at this moment in time. But even more so, enjoy who you have with you at this time. Enjoy your loved ones: your family, and your friends. Enjoy the church and your church family and enjoy God.

If you allow the things of the world to have the first place in your life – if you give your time to the things of this world, if you live today with no other purpose than to get ‘there’ you will lose the joy of ‘here,’ the joy of family, the joy of God.

In just a few days it will be The Year of Our Lord 2019. 2019 lies before us as a clean slate; no mistakes; no regrets. What will we do with the time God gives to us in 2019? New Year’s is that time when people make resolutions:

Eat healthier

Exercise more

Save more money

Stay on budget

Be careful how I spend my money

Give more to the church

Read more

So as you commit to New Year’s resolutions consider time: consider ‘here,’ just as you commit to spend and save money in wise ways, commit to spend your time wisely. We each are given a limited amount of time – the catch is that God did not tell us how much time we each have.

You may have another 20 – 30 – 40 years of time. On the other hand, you may have 20 – 30 – 40 days of time: so consider the words of those wise teachers:

Bert and Ernie: you’re never going to be ‘there’ because you’re always ‘here.’

The words of the wisest man – King Solomon: For everything there is a time, a season for everything under the sun.

As we enter 2019 know where here is – know where there is; know what time it is – know what season it is.

There is a time to be born and a time to die. And what we do between those times is of the utmost importance.

There is a time to throw away stones and a time to gather stones. There is a time to work and a time to not work.

There is a time to embrace, there is a time to be with family. There is a time to dance, a time to love and a time to laugh.

In 2019 commit sufficient time to doing these things: commit sufficient time to family and church.

As Paul said: Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time…

Almighty God, to you one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. Lord, it is not so for us. Teach us Lord to live this day with all its joys and not worry about tomorrow. Teach us to enjoy here and not lose here trying to be there. Teach us Lord the value of time that we might use it wisely. In the name of the Timeless One we pray. Amen

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