Anna's Hosannas!
Free Worship Resources for Use with the Lectionary
 
 
"Following the Season"
 
Scripture Reference: Ecclesiastes 3: 1-13
 
First Thoughts: This passage from Ecclesiastes is a nice focus point as we look at the year to come.  Many of us might be thinking to ourselves, "What will I do differently in 2012?  What new projects will I undertake?"  It is easy as we focus on our own goals, and our own enthusiasm/anxiety to achieve them, for us to forget that God is also working for our well-being.  Furthermore, God has a BETTER idea of the best timing for our lives.  It behooves us, then, to be aware of the seasons of our lives.  We might be really anxious for a change, but God might be calling us into a season of waiting.  We might feel fearful or unsure, but God might be calling us into a season of faith and action.  Perhaps our first resolution this year, then, should be learning to pay attention to how God is callings us - and building all our other goals on this leading.
 
Props You Will Need: A rake, hoe, seeds - whatever gardening equipment you want to use
 
Teaching as a Team
(Leader 2 has all this gardening equipment)
Leader 1: Um, (name), what are you doing with all that gardening equipment?
Leader 2: I've decided to make a New Year's resolution.  This year I'm going to have a huge garden, and grow lots of great vegetables that I'm going to share with my neighbors.
Leader 1:  That sounds like a great idea!  But why do you have your gardening supplies out NOW?
Leader 2:  I'm ready to get started - no time like the present.
Leader 1: Don't you see a problem with that?
Leader 2: No - I got seeds, a rake - everything!
Leader 1: It's the middle of winter.  It's the wrong season to plant.
Leader 2: Does that really matter?
Leader 1: Yes!  The ground is cold now.  If you plant seeds they won't be able to sprout right now. You'll just be wasting your time and energy.
Leader 2: But I want to do something.
Leader 1: I understand that.  But it's important to do things in the right season.  That's what our passage from Ecclesiastes tells us - there's a time for every purpose under heaven.  A time to plant, a time to gather your harvest, a time to laugh, a time to cry, a time to be quiet, and a time to speak up.
Leader 2:  But some of those things don't sound much fun - like crying or being quiet.
Leader 1: It's true - there are some things we might not want to do.  But God knows that we need a little bit of all these things to have lives which are balanced and healthy.  Maybe we like to hang out with our friends all the time, but we also need to take time to be alone.  Maybe we like to have fun, but we also need to feel sad sometimes when things hurt us, or when we have friends who are hurting.  Maybe we like summer because we can swim and play baseball and eat watermelon, but we also need the winter to help us rest and be quiet.  And right now, for gardeners like you, it's a time to wait.
Leader 2: Maybe that should be my New Year's resolution - to try to do things in God's time.
Leader 1: That's a good idea.  If you do that, you will have a  very fruitful new year.
 
Teaching On Your Own: (with all your gardening tools on display)  Hey everybody.  Do you know what  New Year's Resolution is?  It's when you make a plan to do something different at the beginning of the new year.  And I made a resolution myself.  Here are some clues about the resolution - can you guess what it is?  Gardening!  Yes, I'm going to have a great big garden with lots of great vegetables that I can share with my neighbors.  Isn't that a great idea?  And you know when I'm gonna start planting?  Right now!  Do you think that's a good idea?  Why do you think that it might be a problem?  Because it's winter outside?  But what difference does that make?  The ground is cold, and the seeds won't be able to grow into anything?  I guess that's probably right.  When is it that most people plant their gardens?  In the spring, when things are warming up.  I guess it's pretty important to plant in the right season, isn't it?  That's what our passage from Ecclesiastes tells us - there's a time for every purpose under heaven. A time to plant, a time to gather your harvest, a time to laugh, a time to cry, a time to be quiet, and a time to speak up.  Some of those things don't sound like much fun, do they?  It's true - there are some things we might not want to do. But God knows that we need a little bit of all these things to have lives which are balanced and healthy. Maybe we like to hang out with our friends all the time, but we also need to take time to be alone. Maybe we like to have fun, but we also need to feel sad sometimes when things hurt us, or when we have friends who are hurting. Maybe we like summer because we can swim and play baseball and eat watermelon, but we also need the winter to help us rest and be quiet. And right now, for gardeners like me, it's a time to wait.  You know, that might be my new resolution this year - to try to do things in God's time. What do you think?
 
Closing Prayer:  Thank you, God, for all the seasons in our lives.  Help us to embrace each season as the blessing it is, even when it's not something we particularly like.  In Christ's name we pray, Amen.
 
Follow-Up Lesson: One way to reinforce this lesson in a home or classroom setting is to introduce the kids to the entire passage from Ecclesiastes.  Prepare large poster board, divided in three sections: "Fun Season", "Hard Season", "Both".  On individual strips of paper write down each of the purposes from Ecclesiastes: "a time to be born", "a time to die", "a time to plant," "a time to harvest", etc.  Then go through each of the verses, allowing the kids to decide as a group where these verses belong on the board.  Encourage discussion, and help the kids grapple a bit with the harder verses ("a time to kill", "a time to mourn.")  Spend some time in the "hard" list and talk about when these tasks might be good for us.  Then give each child a piece of paper.  Have them fold the paper twice to create four sections.  Let them name each section after a season in the year.  Then invite the kids to pick out one of the tasks from Ecclesiastes to put in each section of their paper.  Encourage them to pick tasks from each of the lists on the board, and to reflect on how this might look in their own lives.  They can complete the craft either by drawing pictures or recording their thoughts.