Ecclesiastes: Life Under the Sun

Every season (I’m speaking of weather) has something to admire, but I’m convinced that Autumn is the queen of them all. The weather is just chilly enough for jumpers and caps, but no so cold as to chill the bones. And the trees - the trees! I could feast my eyes on the colours of the leaves for hours on end. There could be no Autumn too long for me.

Yet Autumn tends to come swiftly and unexpectedly, and often ends far too suddenly. And her end is not a lovely one; it is all mushy leaves and wet socks and rotten smells. Perhaps her beauty is in her brevity. She is a momentary dash of colour to slow us down and make us catch our breaths in the rush from Summer fun to Christmas shopping.

The book of Ecclesiastes makes me think of Autumn. The author, calling himself “The Preacher,” invites us to pause, catch our breath, and admire this momentary life that God has given us.

It’s a very modern-feeling book. It grapples plainly with questions that we grapple with, too. What is the purpose of this short life? Why not just chase after pleasure while we can? Why does God allow such suffering - in fact, why do the worst people seem to succeed and the best sort find themselves just barely getting by?

The Preacher invites us to examine this lot we’ve been dealt, look up at God (who dealt it), and consider how best to live. If it is a gift from God, beautiful in its brevity, then perhaps we need to learn how to be “occupied by the joys of God in our lot amid the brutality of life under the sun” (Zack Eswine, Recovering Eden).

This October, join us at St Columba’s for a new six-week sermon series in the evenings: Ecclesiastes: Life Under the Sun. We’ll explore these questions honestly together, and see where the Lord takes us.

Jon Watson