Its Saturday afternoon. The preaching is coming and the sermon is still in progress. Ecclesiastes 9:7-10 is my text for tomorrow. I’ve had an hour to think about the intro. Here is where I’m at so far: (I’m joining you in prayer as you prepare too!)
Introduction: If you knew that you were going to die tomorrow, what would you do today? In Chapter nine, Solomon raises this question. I could imagine that the more religious among us might answer and tell us to pray, sing, worship, get on our knees. The main thing to be done is to get right with God. Run from the ordinary. Taste the extraordinary of God. In contrast, I could imagine that the more irreligious among us might urge us to finally taste what was forbidden—we should go out and get sexed, boozed and numbed. The main thing to be done is to experience pleasure. Run from the ordinary. Taste the extraordinary of this world.
Maybe the religious would think that getting right with God would refuse us from giving a positive RSVP to pleasure’s invitation. Tomorrow we die. We must forget about everything but prayer. In contrast, maybe the irreligious would think that seeking a day of pleasure would require us to keep God locked inside while we go out into the tattered world to play. Tomorrow we die, forget prayer. Eat, drink and satisfy yourself! But what if, in the midst of impending and unpredictable doom, seeking God and finding enjoyment are not mutually exclusive?
Think about it, up to this point in this book, God has given us a language for the dark. He has handed us a flashlight and gently walked us down into the creepy basement to show us what He knows is there. He has enabled us to look at death, injustice, misuse, mistreatment, doubt, skepticism, cynicism, greed, lust, emptiness, folly. God, it seems, wants us to grow up regarding our notions of what to expect in this life. He wants us wise toward the harming things we find in the world. If we are like children curled up in our beds as the sound of thunder knocks our trees about, vibrates the walls and rumbles through our yards. He is like a kind and knowing Father who takes our hand, invites us onto the porch and shows us that we can stand steady amid the barrage. In contrast, both the religious and the irreligious believe that the ordinary is beneath God. For the religious, God believes the ordinary is a secular waste of time. For the irreligious, God just doesn’t care. Neither believes that God could be at a Cardinal’s game when death is on the line. But Solomon disagrees.
The quote is attributed to Martin Luther. Whether or not Luther said it, its sentiment could serve as the motto of Ecclesiastes and for our lives as Solomon sees it.
“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”
Are you cynical and bored? Are you pious and numb? According to Solomon you and I are meant to learn the divine joy of an ordinary life amid the thunderous creepings of a harming world. He would say to you, “yes death is here,” so “run to the ordinary dear friend. God is there. Joy can be found there. Eden is remembered there. Heaven is foreshadowed there.” Hear what God says to us in Ecclesiastes 9:7-10.