Church of the Brethren
Virlina District
3402 Plantation Road, NE
Roanoke, Virginia  24012
(800) 847-5462
(540) 362-1816
Virlina District

Church of the Brethren
Continuing the Work of Jesus.  Peacefully. Simply. Together.
Continuing the Work of Jesus. Peacefully. Simply. Together.

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven"

Ecclesiastes 3:1

Written By: Emma Jean Woodard, Former Associate District Executive Minister


Ecclesiastes 3:1 is a comforting Scripture verse for me. It shares order, structure, and surety. The next seven verses give a list of a time for this and a time for that. Ecclesiastes is described by some as strange, difficult, and depressing. Ecclesiastes does not start out uplifting. No matter which Bible translation is read, there is despair. "Vanity of vanities; all is vanity." (KJV) "Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless." (NIV) "Perfectly pointless. Everything is pointless." (CEB) "Nothing is worth while; everything is futile." (TLB). The book is filled with warning, difficulty, suffering, hopelessness, and much more.

Nevertheless, Ecclesiastes does not end in gloom and doom. Ecclesiastes 12:13 (CEV) says, "Everything you were taught can be put into a few words: Respect and obey God! This is what life is all about." Yes, the truth is, it is all about God. Revelation 1:8 (NRSV) says, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,' says the Lord, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.'"

Gratefully, God made a way of salvation and right relationship for us. John 3: 16 and 17 (NKJV) says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved."

Thanks be to God for the love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, and blessings given to us. Ecclesiastes and much of Scripture records the Hebrew people and nations experiencing ups and downs, peaks and valleys, successes and failures, victories and defeats, trials and successes. We, in the 21st Century and all the time in between, continue with those experiences and have trials, doubts and fears. When the tragedies and difficult times come, we may ask questions. "Why?" "What did I do to deserve this?" "Where is God?" "Why didn't God answer my prayer for a miracle?" The things of earth can weigh us down and even overwhelm us at times. No matter what, God can handle all of our doubts, fears, and questions. God's presence and love is always present even when we do not feel it or are even angry at God.

I write this article as a statement of my faith. It is about God our Creator, Jesus Christ our Savior, and the Holy Spirit our Empowerer. We are on a journey called life. We are challenged to give and live our lives faithfully in trust and loyalty to our Lord. Life is finite on this earth. We are challenged to give and live our life surrendered to the Three in One. We are to work and serve the Lord. Abundant life goes beyond earth and goes forever.

For the last seventeen years I have served the Lord and the Virlina District as associate district executive minister. In preparation for leaving this position I pondered what to say in my resignation letter. I would like to close my article with the letter written to Board Chair Noel Naff and shared with the Executive Committee. These are my thoughts and feelings for all in the Virlina District.

* * * * * * *

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven" Ecclesiastes 3:1 Indeed there is a time for everything: a time of beginning and a time of ending. The time has come for me to end my time as associate district executive minister in Virlina District effective May 22, 2017.

Serving in this position for seventeen years has been an incredible privilege and honor. There were, times of challenge, struggle, and sorrow. But the joys, relationships and celebrations have been beyond all measure of expectation. I am very grateful for all the support, care, and grace given to me.

 I pray for God's continued guidance in the ministry and mission of Virlina District. Each congregation, meeting point, and fellowship is unique and special. May the hope, peace, joy and love of Jesus Christ abide with you all on your journey of faith and life.


Emma Jean