says the Teacher.
Everything is meaningless.”
So…how do we interpret these words?
Ecclesiastes is a unique book within the biblical canon. Some commentators call it the strangest book in the Bible. Ecclesiastes seeks to answer one basic question: “What is the meaning of life?”
There are several themes present in this book: the fear and inevitability of death, the inscrutable nature of God, the search for meaning and contentment in life and the ultimate purpose of the human experience.
One of the strengths of Ecclesiastes is the way it illustrates the unresolved tensions of life. For example, as humans we experience both the beauty and fragility of life. Life is unbelievably beautiful. It is a gift to get to experience love, joy, family, recreation, sunsets, and so much more that make life beautiful. Yet, life is also undeniably fragile. Eventually we all experience the loss of a loved one. We go through periods of sickness or depression. We will all eventually breathe our last.
As Christians, we hold the beauty and fragility of life in a constant tension.
The author of Ecclesiastes explores several other unresolved tensions within the human experience. I’ll list one more:
The love and the mystery of God.
God is love. The creation of the world is simply an outpouring of this love. God loved us enough to experience the cross and promise resurrection.
Yet, God is also deeply mysterious. Many of us have more questions than answers when it comes to how God created this world. Why is there evil? What are we to do with natural disasters?
Ecclesiastes holds in tension the immense love and the inscrutable nature of God.
The author of Ecclesiastes realizes that the world is full of paradox and disorder. Humans must live within the tensions of life.
How do we do this? Ecclesiastes offers this conclusion: “Remember your creator.” -Ecclesiastes 12:1
Remember your creator as you live in the tensions of life.
Remember your creator as you experience the joy of friendship, the awe of a sunrise, the happiness of recreation. Remember your creator also when your body fights off an illness or you experience disappointment and unmet expectations.
The book ends with a poetic look at remembering God throughout the process of aging.
“Remember God before the light of the sun, moon, and stars is dim to your old eyes, and rain clouds continually darken your sky. Remember him before your legs—the guards of your house—start to tremble; and before your shoulders—the strong men—stoop…Remember God before you become fearful of falling and worry about danger in the streets; before your hair turns white like an almond tree in bloom…yes, remember your creator. For one day the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.”
-Excerpts from Ecclesiastes 12
There is power in the ability to remember. To remember is to recall knowledge from one’s memories. Or perhaps we could say to remember is to recapture the meaning of the past.
Ecclesiastes directs us to remember God in all of life. In this way, all life will have meaning. A life with God provides a deep inner contentment throughout the whole of human experience.
There is much to learn from the book of Ecclesiastes. I hope you’ll join the Bible study today at 4 pm as we explore this book over the next 6 weeks. Here is the Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/691556581.
On Sunday Pastor Dana will preach as we continue our GO series.
See you on Sunday!