Joseph. We don't give him much thought in the life of Christ. He appears in Matthew's birth narrative, and as a side character to Mary in Luke 1-2. However, Matthew shows us how the birth of Christ came about along with how Joseph walked in obedience to the direction of God. Joseph is a model disciple, obeying everything the Lord commands (Matthew 28:19-20).
Content and peaceful. That's what we'd like in our lives. But there's so much noise and stress in our world-inside and out. Qoheleth admits that, for the most part, our lives are marked by strife and strain. But he also points us to a reality that can lead us to embrace the peace of God that passes all understanding.
We are at the half-way point in Ecclesiastes. Advent starts next week (December 1), so we will be taking a four week break. The messages in December will focus on Matthew 1-2, and the Dreams of Christmas.
One of our ministries at Gospel Chapel, Blessings, has been helped along by MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) for the past 11 years. They have provided great mentoring and support as this ministry has grown.
The original intention was for MCC to partner with us for five years, and then there would be a transition as the ministry and position of our Community Cares Coordinator grew.
The time for that transition has arrived, and today we celebrated the ministry of Blessings. Pastor Doug Dunbar introduced the ministry of Blessings, and then our MCC supervisors, Sophie and Jess, spoke of their involvement and the blessing it has been to see the ministry of Blessings grow and flourish.
How do you approach public worship? Do you make space in your life for silence? In a world full of noise, we all need space to be silent. Pastor Ben Jepsen explores how noisy our world is, and some practical ways we can cut the chatter.
The next three problems that Qoheleth "sees" are problems of the human heart, the human condition. Our work and toil is motivated by envy. We tend to live in isolation. And we can become arrogant and unteachable. Life under the sun can be lonely. How do we combat these tendencies? Qoheleth actually points to solutions in this passage.
The realities of life create tensions and questions for us. In Ecclesiastes 3:16-4:16, Qoheleth engages six troubling paradoxes that put the claims of 3:1-15 to the test. Is God really in control? Is God really "making all things beautiful"? What about the injustice, death, and oppression that is so rampant in our world? If God is really good and all powerful, why do these things persist?
Thanks to Pete Seeger and the Byrds, this is a famous passage of Ecclesiastes. And there are verses - phrases really - that have been taken out of this passage for children's songs and missionary conferences. But the main point of the passage is generally not taken into account.
But we need to take the main point of the passage seriously. God's Sovereignty over time, our inability to understand what God is doing, and the majesty of his timing and sovereignty are highlighted in the text to direct us to humility and joy and worship.
The longest unit in Ecclesiastes is also the deepest rabbit hole. We start off by being introduced to Qoheleth directly; he is now the speaker. From the description, we're to imagine Solomon embarking on a quest to find meaning and contentment in life by using all available resources and his God given wisdom. If anyone should be able to answer this timeless quest of humanity, surely Solomon was equipped.
But with each look at life and all that even Solomon could accomplish, the answer doesn't change - life under the sun is hevel - vapour, mist, fleeting, absurd... The more intently he looks at life, the more intensely he probes the question, the more the answer is uncomfortable and unwelcome. Ultimately, he gives up to despair.
But that's never the end of the story. This is, after all, an honest evaluation of "all that is under the sun" - which has excluded the person and purposes of God.