Solemnity and Joy- Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

COMMENTARY

To every thing there is a season
A time to be born, and a time to die
A time to kill, and a time to heal
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh
A time to mourn, and a time to dance

We have been discussing the need for times of solemn reverence and also times of unfettered rejoicing. Is it any wonder that we would need both, given the fractured, dual-natured world we live in? As these verses illustrate, we pass through all manner of different experiences, the entire spectrum of good and bad. We get to welcome new babies but also bury old friends. We build things, but we must break things as well. We have times of health, but also times of pandemic. To deny an entire side of this reality for the other would be deluded.
Does living in the gospel give us a hope for a happy ending, and does that hope instill us with an abiding joy and peace? Yes, but Jesus still wept when Lazarus died. And are there times when we are treated unfairly, hurt and offended, some of us even killed unjustly? Yes, but Stephen still passed away rejoicing, surrounded by the glory of his God and Savior.
We are complex beings in a complex world. There is not only space for the entire spectrum of emotion within us, it is necessary for us to embrace them all. We should let each have dominion over its proper season.

Sow and Then Reap- Matthew 9:36-38, John 4:35, 37-38

But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.
Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;
Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.

Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.
And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth.
I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.

COMMENTARY

The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few
One soweth, and another reapeth. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour
Yesterday I examined an individual interpretation of a field being sowed and reaped, but I would be remiss to pass over the more universal meaning Jesus stressed on more than one occasion. The harvest he refers to in these passages is clearly that of bringing God’s children back to Him. It is the work of ministry.
And this isn’t just any harvest, it is one that has extended over millennia, with multiple stages of development. In this work we not only work shoulder-to-shoulder with Peter and Paul, but even Abraham and Moses.

Other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours
God has been staging this work since the very beginning of this world. He has had a specific plan directing which of His servants were called to plant, to nurture, and to reap. Moses was not to called to free the world, only the Hebrews. That sapling had been considerably wounded, and for a time required exclusive care before it could branch out further.
It was not until much later that Peter received a command that now was the time for the Gentiles to receive the Good News. A common criticism of Christianity is that the rules around it have changed throughout the years. Yet we do not question a farmer who keeps infant plants in small pots, then later integrates them into the broader field. It’s just doing what is called for at the time.

Countless disciples have worked tirelessly throughout the ages to ensure a bounteous harvest. They did their part well, for which service all of us have been made the beneficiaries.
Now the torch has been passed on to us. Our duty is to see that all the sacrifices of those that came before do not go to waste. The Lord has never rescinded the commandment to reap. We know the harvest ends soon, and it wouldn’t do to leave any fruit out there to spoil!

Sow and Then Reap- Matthew 13:24-30

Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.
But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.
So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?
He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?
But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.
Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

COMMENTARY

The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.
Jesus provided the interpretation to this little parable. He was the sower, the good seed was the children of the kingdom, the tares were the wicked, and the harvest is the end of the world where all will be judged.
But each of us is a miniature type for the world (or maybe the world is a macro type for all of us?) and so the principles that apply to the whole apply to each of us individually.
Because, you see, each of us is sown with the image of Christ. We are the children of God, and inherently have the seeds of all virtues within us. But, at birth, we are also sown with the natural man, and have the seeds of all vice within us as well.

The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?
But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.

Our lives then become a fight between these two natures, and it is a mercy from God that we are not called for judgment until that struggle has run its course. I’m sure we all know those that lived a wild and reckless youth, but over the years heard God calling their name and answered. I think we are all grateful that we are given time to mature, time to sort out the good from the bad, time to decide who we will ultimately be. It is a grace from God that we are not measured until we are fully grown.

Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
Remember, in this interpretation you are the field in which the wheat and tares were planted. The promise given to each of us is that eventually all those predispositions to do evil will be taken away. A promise that we can “be born of God, having this wicked spirit rooted out of [our] breast, and receive his Spirit, that [we] may be filled with joy.” (Alma 22:15)
It is not only sickness and death that will end in the resurrection, but also temptation and weakness will beset us no more. To me that is a great comfort during times of duress. There is a plan, the season continues, my tares have yet to be excised. And that’s all okay, because eventually there will be a time of unburdening and a season of rest.