Ecclesiastes 1:1-2:23 – Everything is Meaningless

Notes from an All Age Service, 04.01.09am

Who wrote a letter to Father Christmas this year? I wonder what you asked for?
Pantomime season – imagine you got Aladdin’s lamp and a Djinni popped out and granted you three wishes, what would you ask for?

Read the story of Solomon gaining wisdom – 2 Chronicles 1

We’re going to start a new series today looking at the book of Ecclesiastes. This is written either by Solomon, or someone following Solomon’s lead. They call themselves the Teacher. Listen to what he says about himself: Read Eccl. 1:12-14

The Teacher is on a quest (in the Message, Eugene Peterson calls him the Quester). His quest is to find happiness, success, meaning, contentment. Tries a variety of different things – surprisingly the same as people try today!

Quest to discover what he tried
Letters under chairs. Rearrange to reveal what he tried:

· History (1:3-11)
· Pleasure (2:1-3)
· WWW. (no, not world-wide-web, but Work, wealth and women) (2:4-11)
· Knowledge (2:12-16) (Science & Wisdom)

Have you ever tried to catching bubbles? Try it. Just as you think you’ve got it, they either slip between your fingers or pop. The Teacher spent a lot of time watching what people do, the things they wish for and work for, and came to the conclusion that they were like chasing after the wind, or catching bubbles – pointless. Read 1:2

History (1:3-11) – do we ever learn from past mistakes (Great War, war to end all wars). Have humans improved? changed?
Pleasure (2:1-3) – does anything actually bring us lasting joy?
Work, wealth and women (2:4-11) – all these things can change… desire for bigger, better, faster… feeling that could be more
Knowledge (2:12-16) – can science discover everything? solve all illnesses and problems? despite all we’ve learnt are we wiser people now? During the Industrial Revolution, belief that we were going to get better and better, solve all problems etc.

Problems:
· We may work hard – but someone else profits…
· Work can be pain and grief, with no rest…
· Have things until you die, and then you leave it behind to others…

Someone else realised the same thing, and told the following story: Jesus’ parable of the rich man and his increasing barns! Read Luke 12:13-21

At this time of uncertainty in the world, with the credit crunch and threat of redundancies and other knock on effects, this is being discovered again. The institutions & practises we trusted in & the money we banked on have been reavealed as being less secure than we thought. What is worth investing in? What brings us meaning and purpose?

Our age is an age of cynicism. Lack of trust & hope. In many ways Ecclesiastes seems much like our day. The Teacher cuts through much of the nonsense and hypocrasy to reveal the futility of many things that are thought to be worthy. But, unlike our age, it has something to offer in their place. Despite what is often said about this book, it is full of joy and goodness, and full of God. We will discover more in coming weeks…

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2 thoughts on “Ecclesiastes 1:1-2:23 – Everything is Meaningless

  1. Hi Ben, Great start on Ecclesiastes. I have spent a long time coming to grips with the book and have now given interactive talks to youth and adults and they all love it. The perfect book for a postmodern world – as long as it is properly understood – and it sound like you do!

  2. Many thanks for the comment whoever you are! I’ve grown to love this book – it is as you say the perfect book for our times.

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