Meditation on Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

In Memory of Robert Stewart Kinkley

March 19, 1933-Feb. 21, 2020

Pastor Karen Crawford

 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what 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 throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, 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 for war, and a time for peace.
— Ecclesiastes 3:1-8


The first thing I noticed about Bob Kinkley was his smile. His whole face lit up!  And how happy he and Janie looked when they were in church together. Such a handsome couple. I remember a Sunday last summer, when Janie was our liturgist. She did a great job! I looked over at Bob while she was speaking, and, yes, he was smiling, so proud of his wife. I didn’t know then that he was a retired dentist, making the world a better, healthier place and encouraging people to feel good about themselves when they smiled and take care of their teeth and gums.

    My husband has a dentist story he shared some years ago. When he was a child, the only time he ever got a spanking was when he refused to go to the dentist. He had had a bad experience. It’s too bad he didn’t have Dr. Kinkley as his dentist. He was so gentle. Children loved him! Everybody loved him. The vet in Florida started to cry when Janie told them Bob had passed. He was the nicest client they ever had.

    Bob’s passions were his family, including his dogs, Ohio State football, and golf. Lulu, a 70-pound rescue dog, was Janie and Bob’s 12th dog together. She held a special place in his heart, but he loved them all. Among his favorite pastimes were watching the Buckeyes play, walking his dog and riding the tractor, mowing the lawn to make a perfect putting green.


    Both Bob and Janie have a long history with Coshocton. They have known one another most of their lives. They didn’t meet in church because he grew up at Grace Methodist and Janie, The Presbyterian Church. Let me see if I have this right. Bob was a neighbor of Janie’s friend in high school. But there was a time for friendship before it blossomed into romantic love. It took time. Bob dated Janie’s older sister, Mary Ellen, first, but Mary Ellen fell in love and married another. Bob was crushed, not knowing God’s wonderful plan for him. Janie’s parents worshiped Bob or “Kink” as he was called. Janie’s mom assured him—not to worry. “I have another one for you,” she said.

     No, it wasn’t an arranged marriage, by any means. And there was never any tension between the sisters over boys. It just took some time before Bob realized that Janie was the one God had chosen for him and maybe to work up the courage to ask the beautiful young woman with a gorgeous smile to go out with him.

    First, Bob tried to fix Janie up with a friend of his on a blind date! Finally, Bob called and asked her to go to a dental fraternity dance. They got married in the main sanctuary of The Presbyterian Church on Dec. 28, 1957, just before the Buckeyes went to the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 1958 and defeated the Oregon Webfoots 10-7. Bob was extremely bright and hardworking. He graduated from Ohio State Dental School in May of that year after 6 years of study. During that time, he experienced the tragic loss of his father, Kenneth Kinkley. Janie was a college junior at OSU when they married. She didn’t want to wait any longer because she was worried about her father’s failing health and wanted him to be at their wedding. But she would finish her degree later and then a master’s from OSU, while serving her community as a teacher of young children.  

     Isn’t it strange how one’s life unfolds in unexpected ways? That’s how it was with Bob and Janie. In their early part of their marriage, Bob, who had completed ROTC, was drafted. It was the Korean War era. He served as a captain in the Army. He was sent to Fort Lee in Virginia. Janie went with him. They lived on the base, and he was so popular, they got invited to all the officer’s parties. Bob was being groomed for a career in the Army. But a car accident that left Janie with a broken back and in a cast for 3 months changed their plans. They returned to their family and hometown in Ohio. Bob began to serve Coshocton with his gifts and talents, setting up practice as a dentist in the home that had belonged to Janie’s dad’s mother, her paternal grandmother. He offered kindness, friendship, and gentle care to our community for 40 years at the corner of Mulberry and South 4th Street, retiring in 2000.

      The writer of Ecclesiastes emphasizes the many seasons of our lives, seasons that we live out very differently, but seasons we all must go through. There is a time and a purpose for everything—and the time and purpose are always known by the Lord—and not by us at least, not while we are going through these times and seasons. We don’t have control over all these things—certainly not when we are born or when we die. God leads us to plant and keep on planting. We are called to sow seeds throughout our lives and trust God for the harvest. Bob did. He sowed seeds of kindness and love, always trying to be God’s instrument to help make the world that is broken and hurting, whole and healed.

    Throughout their 62 years together, Bob was devoted to Janie—giving her whatever she wanted, even the things that seemed impractical to him. She always wanted a convertible. She got it. And he was right. It was impractical. He was the homebody, and she liked to travel. But he wanted to be with her. So he went to Hawaii in 2014, even though he didn’t want to go. One year, they went to the Rose Bowl and took their two daughters. Wonderful memories were made on vacations at The Greenbrier in West Virginia and winters spent in Florida.

    When we are grieving the loss of a loved one, and struggling with all the life changes that inevitably means, we may lose sight of our hope in the Spirit that is with us now and working in us. One day, in God’s time, our mourning will turn to joy. God will make beauty from ashes, order from chaos. Our hearts and lives will be transformed in unexpected ways. But grief is unpredictable. You think it is gone, over and done, then it returns suddenly in waves, without warning with a thought, a sudden memory or a word someone says, a smell, sight or sound, maybe a song that you both loved. Some days, the tears will flow. Other days, the laughter will come and you will have God’s peace, living out your new life in Jesus Christ and all the surprises that come from walking with Him. You will have peace when you remember the promise of everlasting life with Him. This world that we see isn’t all there is. This is just the beginning.

    One day, we will see Him face to face. There will be no more suffering, sickness or disease. No more hunger or poverty, hatred or fear, division or war. The Body of Christ will be gathered around the heavenly banquet table, with all the saints from every time and place. Singing God’s praise. The Lord will wipe our tears away.


Published by karenpts

I am the pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Smithtown, New York on Long Island. Come and visit! We want to share God’s love and grace with you and encourage you on your journey of faith. I have served Presbyterian congregations in Minnesota, Florida and Ohio since my ordination in 2011. I am a 2010 graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary and am working on a doctor of ministry degree with Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. I am married to Jim and we have 5 grown children and two grandchildren in our blended family. We are parents to fur babies, Liam, an orange tabby cat, and Minnie, a toy poodle.

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