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The Journal

Dying well so you can live well

Learning to die well so we can live well. Today we embark on a new series on the book of Ecclesiastes. In 1:1 we are told that these are the words of Qoheleth which is teacher or leader of the assembly. This book is from the wisdom tradition and at times reads like Proverbs. Some people see this book as a book which shows us what it is like to live without God and then in chapter 12 we are told to fear the Lord. The conclusion is correct but the teacher is trying to get us to really examine life and how it works because he says that life is meaningless or a better translation is life is like a breath or vapour. He is not saying that life is futile but that life ultimately can’t be controlled by us. It passes so quickly. This writer is not depressed nor cynical rather he is teaching us that there is an inevitability of life that we must face - that we all die. As we face our mortality God is wanting to produce in us a humility to see our need of Him. All of us want our lives to count and to have significance but there is something frustrating about trying to “gain” 1:3 in this world and make our mark because death humbles all of us and we are forgotten. In Matthew 16:26 Jesus uses this idea of gain when he warns us of running after things in the world at the cost of losing our soul. The teacher is taking us on a journey to look at the patterns and rhythms of life so we can live realistic and fruitful lives now and be ready to face the Lord. Living well is not just about avoiding worldly pursuits but rather the uncertainties of life are faced by all people Christian and non Christian and to live well which is one of the purposes of wisdom literature requires us to learn the lessons of life we see God teaching us through this book. Too often as Christians we learn Bible truths but this wisdom from God doesn’t penetrate our values and our attitudes. Ecclesiastes is a book which will get under our skin and give us the opportunity to grow in faith as we seek the Lord and apply His Wisdom to our lives and our values and attitudes are changed and affect our behaviour. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara