Away Stones – Ecclesiastes 3
5 – Ecclesiastes 3:5
One: Casting Away Stones
Two: We gather together
don't shake hands, Christians gotta hug!
and margins and the in-between
Five: Another kind of refraining
will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
will be their God,
and they shall be my
1 – Casting Away Stones
over halfway through our study, we arrive at the title passage.
this title? Why out of all the things we have been studying in
Ecclesiastes, did this particular metaphor stick out when I was
first, it is interesting to me that the phrase “cast away” is
used in both Ecclesiastes 3:5 and 3:6, check it out below:
time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to
keep, and a time to cast away;”
that make you go hmmmmm...
then second, the phrase simply spoke to my heart. It was what drew my
eye time and again. I have had a sense for a while that God wanted
me to address the seasonal aspects of life through a study. Goodness
knows we have had our adventures with seasons in the last few years!
And I bet many of you have also. Not to sound uber-spiritual and
non-concrete, but have you ever had a time in the Word when God
simply spoke by highlighting a passage or phrase? That was this
moment for me.
away brings to mind mental images of fishermen casting nets or the
fly fishermen in the movie “A River Runs Through It” sending
their line out and casting it back in. There is a rhythm to fishing.
Standing in the water, casting back and forth, back and forth, until
a catch is found.
our verse at hand in Ecclesiastes, God tells us that there is a time
for “casting away stones” and a time to “gather stones
together.” This second phrase is actually essential in
understanding the first part. If we are gathering stones together on
one hand, then I think the casting away of stones is a bit different
than I first imagined. Bear with me here, there is no way of actually
knowing, nor does it completely matter if we understand the exact
phrasing. This is not an issue of salvation, but worthy of
contemplation, I think. By the end of this study, I hope you will
first, when I read the words “casting away”, I thought the
passage was speaking of throwing stones away, like you would throw
away a banana peel, or take a shirt you are done with to the
Goodwill. The Hebrew for casting away can mean that and, you
will see, does mean that in next week's passage. However, here we
have the immediate comparison to bringing stones together. In my
mind, the word “together” transforms verse 5 to being about stuff
and things, to being about relationship.
stones together...” Do you hear the relationship in that phrase of
the stones to one another?
is a time to gather and there is a time to cast what needs to be
cast. This is different than a throwing away of a relationship or a
person. I'm not sure God ever calls us, even while using extremely
tight boundaries (we'll address boundaries in day 4) to throw people
away. Our verses in Ecclesiastes, speaks more to the idea that there
is a time to be together, to gather together, and there is a time to
spread out, to be apart.
you have ever moved in your life you understand the idea of spreading
out. If you have moved more than once, you understand it even more.
We went to the Seminary for 3 years, vicarage in Nebraska for 1 year,
we have been in Ohio for almost 12 years, spent a brief fall in
Haiti, and grew up in either Michigan or Missouri. That means that my
heart is divided between many states. We have friends in Texas,
Colorado, Arizona, Minnesota, New York, Africa, Haiti, etc., etc. I
could keep going. I think you get my point.
out is not easy. There are people who are part of our very heart that
we will never live next door to. It's just our reality. God tells me
here in Ecclesiastes that there is a time for this. There are times
and places and people in our lives that He is asking us to cast away
from. Not to throw those relationships overboard, but to cast out
from one another on the strange adventure of life. Sharing His
message in each of our places. Like stones in a field, you find one
here, one over there, and another along the creek.
I were in charge I may just have all the people I love in one field,
all huddled together in a big pile of love, but who would reach Texas
then? And who would minister in Jacmel? Who would bring Him to the
people of Minnesota?
also holds true in the context of your local congregation. There are
times when we can gather and come together and love on each other.
Worship, Bible study, youth night, potlucks, VBS week, small group,
community coffee. But there are also times when we are meant to be
cast out into our community, out from our homes and our comfortable
spaces. To meet someone new, to shine a little light in a different
disciples knew a little more about stones than we do. They lived with
the threat of real life stoning shadowing their life every day, and
each time you read about them, they are being spread out.
this small passage in Acts13:48-52 -
when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying
the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life
believed. And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the
whole region. But the Jews incited the devout women of
high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up
persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of
their district. But they shook off the dust from their feet
against them and went to Iconium. And the disciples were
filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”
you find the rhythm? Find for me the blessings and rejoicing in the
beginning of the passage, followed by the persecution. And then the
persecution, followed again by the blessings and joy. If you have
your Bible open, underline the persecution in one color and the
rejoicing in another color. This rhythm feels so Ecclesiastes-like to
me. So very seasonal.
works in the gathering, but he also works in the spreading, or the
“casting away.” We are His living stones. May we ever let Him
cast us near and far, in the comfortable places and the uncomfortable
we gather tomorrow, dear sisters, thank you for studying with me from
your place in His kingdom field.
you ever had the experience of a Scripture passage that keeps drawing
your attention? If so, what passage and how did it speak to you?
have you been cast in your life? What places or to what people?
Labels: community, living stones, scatter