January 22, 2021
A New Beginning

Ed McLaurin
“To everything 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; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;  A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
2020 will probably go down as one of the most distressing years in modern history. Political and racial strife in addition to the pandemic has led to a very divided nation. We all have been impacted by the pandemic in various ways, we lost a close friend and know of others that now are coping with the virus. Our division has caused bitter relationships, broken relationships, and has resulted in threats to our politicians and others; most recently the storming of the Nation’s Capital Building.

But we must also remember the good, the front line and EMT people; the essential workers; and those volunteers gathering and distributing food to the needy, those working to keep us safe or keep things operating day by day.                                                    
I have taken comfort in reading Ecclesiastes which sees the emptiness and futility of power, popularity, prestige, and pleasure apart from God. The word vanity appears thirty-seven times in Ecclesiastes and seems to express things about life that cannot be understood. Goals and ambitions pursued as ends to themselves lead to dissatisfaction and frustration. Life seems to be filled with inequities, uncertainties, change in fortune, and violations of justice. It is an intense search for meaning and satisfaction here on earth. Sounds like we could be now living under the same conditions!

May faith and wisdom guide our days and all ways lest vanity take us over! As Robert Frost wisely wrote, Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.
I close with a prayer based on another favorite reading of mine titled “Desiderata”.

May I be at peace with you, O God. In the noisy confusion of life with all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams may I also be cheerful in this beautiful world you have made and give you thanks and praise. May your wisdom and truth be my guide. Amen.
Alpharetta Presbyterian Church
180 Academy Street, Alpharetta, GA 30009
770-751-0033 www.alpharettapres.com