Turn, Turn, Turn

Eagleville United Methodist Church, January 1, 2023

John I. Carney
12 min readJan 1, 2023

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Fireworks exploding over a bridge in Korea.
Fireworks festival on the eve of Korea’s New Year’s Day.

Ecclesiastes 3:1–13 (CEB)

There’s a season for everything
and a time for every matter under the heavens:
a time for giving birth and a time for dying,
a time for planting and a time for uprooting what was planted,
a time for killing and a time for healing,
a time for tearing down and a time for building up,
a time for crying and a time for laughing,
a time for mourning and a time for dancing,
a time for throwing stones and a time for gathering stones,
a time for embracing and a time for avoiding embraces,
a time for searching and a time for losing,
a time for keeping and a time for throwing away,
a time for tearing and a time for repairing,
a time for keeping silent and a time for speaking,
a time for loving and a time for hating,
a time for war and a time for peace.

What do workers gain from all their hard work? I have observed the task that God has given human beings. God has made everything fitting in its time, but has also placed eternity in their hearts, without enabling them to discover what God has done from beginning to end.
I know that there’s nothing better for them but to enjoy themselves and do what’s good while they live. Moreover, this is the gift of God: that all people should eat, drink, and enjoy the results of their hard work.

It was the great folk singer Pete Seeger who first set the words of Ecclesiastes 3 to music, and Seeger’s adaptation has been performed by everyone from Judy Collins to Marlene Dietrich, but the version of the song that we’re all most familiar with was recorded by The Byrds in 1965. “To everything, turn, turn, turn, there is a season, turn, turn, turn, and a time to every purpose under heaven.”

This weekend is a holiday when we celebrate, or at least observe, the passage of time. We look back at the past year, we look forward to a new year. The date, I suppose, is arbitrary, and it’s not universal — the countries of eastern and southeastern Asia, especially China, Korea and Vietnam, celebrate what…

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John I. Carney

Author of “Dislike: Faith and Dialogue in the Age of Social Media,” available at http://www.lakeneuron.com/dislike