Summary: Looking at the world around us it would be so easy to give up. The cycles of problems and the ever declining situations we wittness. Persons of faith look through the problems and find God in the mists of trouble and pain and we can keep going.
Why am I here?
This week we are looking at the first chapter of Ecclesiastes and it sounds like the most depressing scripture you could ever find. Reading the Book of Job is pretty bad, but today’s reading is so much worse.
I think it is because in many ways it sounds so true. Here at the beginning of a new year it seems more obvious. We look down the road ahead of us and expect a lot of the same stuff that happens every year.
We expect to have another birthday that might make you feel good or bad.
We can expect another year of bills from the electric company, phone company and others.
We can expect to make trips to the grocery store …. over and over.
We can be sure that we will have to file income taxes again this year.
The news shows and paper are going to offer more bad news than good.
Politicians are going to argue and fight.
Traffic is going to be bad.
And Christmas will roll around again.
-- Are we making any progress? OR are we loosing ground?
Does it worry you that many of the world’s problems from last year are going to continue in 2007.
-The Middle East and all the uncertainty of having people at risk.
-Gas prices which are directly dependant on the Middle East.
-How about bird flu?
-People around the world dyeing of AIDS?
Not to mention natural catastrophes….
This is not a user friendly world.
It seems as if there is nothing that we can do about almost any of the bad stuff in the world.
Most of us can’t even deal with our personal problems so we know we are helpless against the world issues. Right?
-- Our scripture today is credited to Solomon. His name means peaceful, complete, or prosperous.
Solomon is known for his wisdom, we all remember the story where two women claim one child and to resolve the problem he threatens to cut the child in half to satisfy the women. Then he determines the real mother by the reactions of the women.
He was a man that never lacked for advice as we are told that he had 700 wives and 300 concubines.
The accounts of scripture speak of his wealth, Horses and chariot’s. He builds a fine palace and he is credited for building the Temple.
So, in general Solomon is a man that lacks nothing as far as earthly desires are concerned. And yet historically, he is said to be the author of our text this morning.
2 "Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher.
"Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless."
3 What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun?
4 Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever.
5 The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises.
6 The wind blows to the south and turns to the north;
round and round it goes, ever returning on its course.
7 All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from, there they return again.
Ok, for a man that has everything, he really seems to be down.
The bills are always coming in. All the work he has done does not seem to be appreciated.
Nothing ever changes.
Day after day there are always people wanting things from him and even with all he has ….he still wants something that he has not yet found. He is greatly influenced by the religions and expectations of his wives and the culture. He has studied and tested knowledge and wisdom and still he is missing something.
When I compare our nation and even world to this book, the constant cycles and constant wants just seem so clear. Even if I don’t happen to have the same feelings of hopelessness and desire, I can see signs of it in our culture.
The TV commercials that tell us how to get the good life or a better body with only a pill are selling to people that are dissatisfied and wanting something.
The expectations of a culture to buy things, to value entertainment and leisure over other goals.
We have this example of Solomon, a man with excess of everything earthly and yet he comes to realize that it is not satisfying or rewarding.
Let’s read a little further:
8 All things are wearisome, more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing.
9 What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one can say, "Look! This is something new"?