I see you are a Judy Collins fan and that her singing of Amazing Grace is important to you. It is important to me as well. Judy has made several beautiful and powerful recordings of Amazing Grace with choirs, with orchestra and with a Scots Guards unit. She would have made my two-centuries-ago distant relative John Newton (the writer of the words of Amazing Grace) very proud. Like John Newton I am a recovered alcoholic who sobered up and became a pastor. That’s why Amazing Grace as Judy sings it is very important to me.
I am a 72-year-old retired Lutheran pastor. I was ordained on May 20, 1970 and my Dad died the next day. I think the excitement of the occasion was too much for him.
I could have been so devastated by Dad’s death that my ministry could have been rendered fruitless. But by the grace of God I was not devastated, thanks to Judy Collins and the pastor of my home church.
Pastor Ed suggested that I be the celebrant at my Dad’s funeral but that I allow him to preach the homily so that I could sit back and relax as he preached.
Pastor Ed chose as his text the verses from Ecclesiastes 3 about “a time to be born and a time to die”, . . .etc . As he was reading the text, I was hearing in my mind Judy’s lovely voice singing those words in “Turn, Turn, Turn.” And the spiritual healing process began for me at that moment.
After reading the text, Ed spoke about how God could transform my grief through faith so that my ministry could be enhanced rather than diminished by what the Lord had allowed to happen. And Ed made his message more personal for me after the service when he told me that his own mother had died within a week after his ordination.
I will always appreciate Judy’s contribution to the peace which I experienced that weekend.
It wasn’t until several years later that someone pointed out to me that “Turn, Turn, Turn” never gets as far as verse 11 with its wonderful promise that God will make everything beautiful in its time. But Pastor Ed included that verse and I have never forgotten it.
Recently I listened again to Judy’s beautiful recording of “Turn, Turn, Turn.” As I listened, I was thinking about the words which replace verse 11: “A time for peace; I swear it’s not too late.” And I realized that those words raise an open-ended question: “Why is it not too late for peace?”
The secularist would answer, “Because our leaders can achieve peace by negotiation and diplomacy.”
An Eastern religionist would answer, “Because good karma will outweigh bad karma.”
But because God has put eternity into our hearts, you and I can answer, along with the writer of verse 3: 11 of קֹהֶלֶת, “Because God will make everything beautiful in its time.”
Yesterday, as I listened to Judy Collins, I realized that “Both Sides Now’ is an excellent commentary upon the verses of Ecclesiastes 3 in “Turn, Turn, Turn.” The clouds symbolize nature, beautiful yet threatening. The singer has looked at nature, love and life from both sides, good and bad, and realizes that she doesn’t know any of them at all. The singer of “Turn, Turn, Turn” echoes the Teacher of Ecclesiastes, who has looked at planting and reaping, loving and hating, killing and healing, and sees them all as part of the purpose of God, which we humans cannot understand until God puts eternity into our hearts and until He makes everything beautiful in its time. And because of that, it’s not too late.