The Times, They Are A-changin'
This time of year is gorgeous. The vibrant, autumnal hues of gold, red, and orange against a backdrop of a placid blue sky look like something out of a Hallmark movie. The weather outside becomes bearable as the temperature finally dips below 80 degrees. The stars shine brightly in the evening due to the crisp, cloudless nights - but the times, they are a-changin'.
This time of year also brings the dreaded "time change" or the end of daylight saving time. (Notice the absence of the "s" at the end of saving: daylight saving time). This weekend we will "fall back" on our watches and clocks - or we'll let Apple do the job for us as we sleep. Either way, the times, they are a-changin'.
The nights have already started to seem longer as the sun sets earlier and earlier each day. The nights will seem incredibly long after our clocks shift. Don't let me bring you down, there is good news on the horizon. The sun will come up an hour earlier: a much needed companion for those of us who get up early in the morning. As the autumn fades into winter, however, the sun will rise later and later. Either way, the times, they are a-changin'.
Daylight Saving Time has always baffled me. I'm not going to get into the politics of whether it should be abolished or not, sorry to dash your hopes. Growing up, I always heard that it was instituted to give the farmers more time in their fields. As a young lad growing up in the cornfields of Central Illinois, that made total sense - except that it wasn't true. I guess you can't believe everything you hear. The times, they are a-changin'.
Daylight Saving Time was actually introduced to the United States under the Standard Time Act of 1918. This was signed into law by Woodrow Wilson in an effort to lessen the use of coal here on the homefront during the First Great War. The plan was to give us one extra hour of daylight. So while "Keep the Home Fires Burning" by Ivor Novello was a huge hit - coal usage was not. Over time, the idea of Daylight Saving Time has evolved - even Daylight Saving Time is a-changin.'
Daylight Saving Time is a man-made construct trying to gain the upper hand over nature. We can't stop the sun from rising later and later - so we align our lives to it - or legislate rules to govern how we adjust to it, anyway. Regardless of how you look at it, we can't control nature - we can only adjust to it. We can't control time, we can only adjust to it - the times, they are always a-changin.
The writer of Ecclesiastes wrestled with the changing of times long before Bob Dylan did in 1964. In Ecclesiastes chapter 3, the author contemplated the shifting of time and our part in it all. The chapter begins with: "For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven." What follows is the long list of activities that we take part in through the years - even as the times, they are a-changin'.
One of the odd activities that the writer of Ecclesiastes mentions is that there is "A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones." (3:5) The jury is still out on what exactly that phrase means, but there are two very plausible interpretations that fit well with our topic: the times, they are a-changin.'
Quite possibly, casting stones means "demolishing" (as in an old building), and gathering stones means "building a new foundation." Another tradition holds that "casting stones" is clearing land for agriculture, and "gathering stones" is putting stones in an enemy's field so that it loses its fruitfulness. Both are constructs that are probably lost on us as 21st century Americans, you guessed it - the times, they are a-changin'.
But even though times change, truth does not. The writer isn't wrong - no matter what tradition you hold to what as to what it means to "gather" or "collect" stones - the truth is this: there is a time for it. God has allotted time for every activity under the sun - and He never changes. When you wake up on Sunday morning and notice how the time has changed - be thankful that God, the Creator of the universe, does not. So while the times, they are a-changin' - Jesus Christ, is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Listen to "The Times, They Are A-Changin'" by Bob Dylan.
Jeremy DeGroot is Lead Pastor at FBC Siloam Springs, a husband, daddy, and musician. You can contact him via email at [email protected] or reach out on Facebook.