Sunday, December 17, 2017

THE EVERLASTING SEASON

I doubt the Preacher was the first to ponder seasons and I know for certain that I will not be the last to wonder why we are so adamant about categorizing and insisting on beginnings and endings for every aspect of our mortal span. Even if you have not read his words in Ecclesiastes they have been covered by many vocalists and musicians, with innumerable renditions of Turn, Turn, Turn written by Pete Seeger back in the days when I was still in High School. He brought vitality and a new perspective to the very old words of the Preacher.

Regardless of how familiar you are with the Preacher’s beautiful poetic message or where you became acquainted with them or if this is your first enlightening introduction, I hope you will become a fan as I use it as the foundation for this week’s Thought.

Ecclesiastes or, the Preacher – Chapter 3



1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

Spring comes abruptly upon us and we have feelings of renewal as dormant seeds stirred by soft falling rain bring beauty to every vista.

Summer sends forth heated rays hastening harvest day, but we often find ourselves wishing for relief and respite and look forward to autumn’s refreshing
breezes and cooler nights.

Autumn paints summer’s greens with an extensive splattering from the Master Painter’s pallet and we find reasons to explore in the colorful canyons and enjoy the bounties of our labors.

Winter becomes wearisome with its shortened daylight hours and seemingly endless cold and dreary nights and we welcome every moment of short periods of Indian Summers.

2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

There are few absolutes in a temporal world, but death being the result of being born is one of which that we all can bear witness.

The very plant which gives us life dies in sacrifice as it nurtures our beings and yet we only recognize its gift when hunger racks our souls.

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 get, 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 of war, and a time of peace.


Sadly there are many who spend much more time wallowing in their contrary and repugnant seasons and too little time in the positive and joyful ones.

There is little doubt when the Savior was admonishing us from the mount. He pronounced that the pathway of His disciples should be continually involved with embracing the sufferings of others and blessing them with comfort and support.

One of our most controversial dividing into seasons in these Latter Times seems to deal with when the proper time for beginning to see signs of an approaching holiday might be. There is little doubt that merchants have a ‘the sooner the better’ attitude, while the rest of us seem to vary depending on which of the seasonal holidays is our favorite.

For some, the celebration surrounding the changing of the calendar is reason to extend the night as if there were to be no tomorrow, while for others they look further and further east and across the great Atlantic to give reason to ring in the New Year earlier and earlier.

For some, the celebration of Saint Valentine’s Day gives enhancement to the love they share with others, while for others it is a dire reminder of the misery of their loneliness.

For some, Halloween is just one more day of a yearlong celebration of zombies and vampires, while others turn off their porch lights and hunker down in their basements so as not to be bothered with such hedonistic ritual reminders.

For some, Thanksgiving brings a heartfelt reminder of the bounteousness of their lives and the love of family and friends, while others stand in lonely lines awaiting the one hot meal they will probably enjoy this season.

Finally we come to the most hotly debated of holiday seasons. Christmas!

It will probably be sometime in late September when you first read someone’s status on Face Book decrying the fact that on their recent shopping adventure their ears were assaulted with Christmas music and their eyes were attacked with Christmas specials, when everyone absolutely knows that The Christmas season begins on Black Friday.

While it has been obvious for several decades that the main event of the Christmas season was no longer going to a Mass in commemoration of the birth of Christ, it is a more recent development that that star heralded event has nothing to do with the mercantile driven season.

That pondering which has most occupied my mind as I anticipated writing this Thought which would be published a week before Christmas Eve is difficult to capsulize, but can be partially expressed with the following quandary. ‘How can there be such a thing as a beginning or an end of a season for He who is everlasting? ‘

Did those who profess His name not promise to remember Him in all things at all times?

Did those who profess His name not give Him the gift of their agency?

Did those who profess His name stop desiring to have His countenance shine upon them?

Did those who were spiritually born of Him spiritually die?

Did those whose hearts were made pure through Him all become corrupt?


Hugh Nibley wrote a piece entitled The Christmas Quest, from which I offer the following short passage.

So the Latter-day Saints have always been the greatest advocates of the Christmas spirit; nay, they have shocked and alarmed the world by insisting on recognizing as a real power what the world prefers to regard as a pretty sentiment. Where the seasonal and formal aspect of Christmas is everything – it becomes a hollow mockery. If men really want what they say they do, we have it, but faced with accepting the real Savior who has really spoken with men they draw back, nervous and ill at ease. In the end, lights, tinsel, and sentimentality are safer, but a sense of possibilities still rankles, so to that we shall continue to appeal. For by celebrating Christmas the world serves notice that it is still looking for the gospel.

While Brother Nibley gives reason for deep or even shallow remembrances on Christmas day, I feel it important to admonish us even further:

By having no end to our remembrance of He who is Eternal

By having no beginning dates to our devotion to He who is Everlasting

By understanding that His season is without end

I still haven't decided whether it is best to think of the Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ as a Being of All Seasons or a Being Without Seasons or a Being Whose Seasons Never End. Maybe it is best just to always gratefully remember Him and our Father who sent Him.

THOUGHTS FOR A SABBATH DAY – WILLIAM L. RILEY


EDITED BY – KATHLEEN W. RILEY