A Reflection for October 18, 2021
By Kate Croskery Jones
A Time To Be Silent and A Time To Speak
Time for Everything
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens…
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
(Ecclesiastes 3:1,7-8 NIV)
In Ecclesiastes’ litany on seasonal actions there is a time to be silent and a time to speak. Acknowledging this is the easy part. Often, the far more difficult task is determining whether any moment is the moment to speak out or a moment to keep silent. Mostly we are too quick to speak out about the little things and keep silent when the stakes are much higher. When I think about keeping silent, I remember Rev. Martin Niemöller’s words in post-war Nazi Germany:
"First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me."
When I think about speaking out, I recall Jesus saying, “Do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them underfoot and turn and maul you." (Matt 7:6)
As I reflect on my own life and the time where I did not speak out, I was usually afraid. I was afraid of creating, getting involved in or exacerbating a conflict. I was afraid that my words would have no value because the other would not listen to my opinion. I was afraid that I would be considered arrogant, presuming that I am right and the other is wrong. Sometimes, I ask myself “Am I right?” The refrain to Kenny Roger’s song “The Gambler” says,
“You've got to know when to hold 'em
Know when to fold 'em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run…"
I have never regretted speaking out in spite of my fear. Regrets haunt me when I have failed to speak out when I knew I should have. I pray that I am never silenced by fear but only silenced when being a disciple of Jesus demands it. The hymn of my heart in this season is Henry Emerson Fosdick’s missional hymn for the church, God of Grace and God of Glory (UMH #577), “Grant us wisdom, grant courage, for the facing of this hour… for the living of these days… and lest we miss Thy kingdom’s goal…”
The wisdom of what to say, and the courage to say it, surely come from steeping our life in relationship with Jesus, one of prayer and study in God’s Word. Ecclesiastes does not guarantee life from hate or war and neither does Jesus. However, we can cast all fear aside because nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
Please pray with me:
God of Grace and God of glory, send Jesus into my heart, so that when I speak, my lips utter your words, strong and true. May I be a witness for you in all that I say and do. Amen.
Kate Croskery Jones