This week we're exploring Ecclesiastes 2:24-26. One of the main reasons I picked this particular text is because I wanted to examine the concept of fun while we're in the midst of a quarantine. Life carries a bit of heaviness these days that is new since the unwelcome coming of covid-19. Lightness of life being hard to come by, I wanted to know what I could find about fun and enjoyment in scripture. I feel like sometimes we need permission to feel and think and experience things in life. In this time of 'seriousness' and 'heaviness,' we might occasionally need permission to break from intensity's stronghold and just have some fun.
Besides, I've always liked Ecclesiastes. It seems to come from the hand of a realist. Whoever wrote it recognized and accepted the inconsistencies in life. There is no pretending life is always pleasant because one has faith in God, and yet the writer clearly has faith in God. In chapter 8, for example, the author writes, "There is a vanity that takes place on earth, that there are righteous people who are treated according to the conduct of the wicked, and there are wicked people who are treated according to the conduct of the righteous." This strikes me as very true in our own time, and yet, even in the midst of this reality, the author still returns to God's goodness and authority. In chapter 9 the author writes, "All this I laid to heart, examining it all, how the righteous and the wise and their deeds are in the hand of God..."
In the midst of the reality that is covid-19 and the quarantine, it is good to know God is God and that God wants us to find enjoyment in the midst of life's uncertainties.
Early rabbinic tradition ascribed authorship of Ecclesiastes to Solomon. Attributing authorship to Solomon makes sense since we rarely hear Solomon's name without also hearing the word 'wisdom' in the same breath. However, it is more likely that the bulk of the book was written by a wisdom teacher from the 3rd century BCE and that it probably did not come from the pen of a single author, rather, other contributors added to the book as well. This does not, of course, make the wisdom found in Ecclesiastes any less wise. It's just a fun fact you can bring out at your next party (whenever we start having parties again).
Meet The Fourth Family
Richard & Nancy Wright
Please remember the good folks of Fourth in your prayers. Here's a list of those we been
Judy Harris - back pain
Connie Nutgrass - Recovering from surgery
Tara Parker - Recovering from broken arm
Glenn Orr - Recovering from broken arm
Dennis and Joan Little's friend Dennis Tomberlin
Dennis and Joan Little's friends and mission workers in Cameroon, Richard and Debbie
Dennis and Joan Little - family situations and concerns
Bill and Ruthie Brent ask for prayers for Debbie, Jeff and Loretta
Bill and Ruthie Brent also ask for prayers for their friend Ronnie Judd
Pat Gould ask for prayers for her friend Tammy's husband
Jan Merrick asks for prayers for friends Karen and Jim. Jim is battling health issues
Michaelle and Larry Steier's son John - health issues
Margaret Lewis - Health issues. Prayers, too, for Alex.
Peggy Garlinger's son who has been diagnosed with covid-19
Nancy Wright's friend Susannah Lindsay with cancer. Also for Susannah's sons.
Paula Owen's niece Abby and her daughter Nik - tested positive for covid-19.
The Great Stabilizer
I have noted to you all before that I can live inside my head more than I want. What I mean by that is that I spend a lot of time thinking and contemplating in my mind and not interacting with others or with life. When I do that, my life often becomes more intense than I want it to be. I take on a seriousness that brings me down and I find it difficult to just lighten up and enjoy life. Intensity is a good thing sometimes, so I don't mind having it in my life, but i don't like it when it dominates my life. Intensity helps me get things done when I need to get things done, but taken too far, it just robs me of enjoyment and fun. I'd rather live 'light' and 'easy,' but in those moments of high intensity, I tend to live 'heavy' and 'serious.'
Yet another reason being connected to a faith community provides stability for my life. When I'm engaging with people (Fourth Presbyterian people in particular), I engage in life outside my head more. I get outside the 'heaviness' of my mind and breathe in the fresh air of fun and enjoyment. It's not unlike the way we all feel right now when we leave the house during the quarantine. After days spent cooped up inside and not going anywhere, it's nice to get out for a walk and enjoy the freedom and freshness of life outdoors. That's how I feel when I get outside my head and start interacting with people again. Life loses some of its intensity and feels lighter, more enjoyable and more relaxed. I forget my troubles for a bit and enjoy my life.
Being part of a community of faith has a lot of advantages and one of them is the joy of interacting with others so I can get outside my own head. It's a great stabilizer helping to keep me balanced.
If you are reading this and you have walked away from church life, consider going back. Consider how engaging with others might get you outside the intensity of your own head to breathe in the joy and happiness and lightness of life lived in community. Consider how engaging with others might help you forget your struggles for a while so you can return to them later with a fresh perspective. Consider the way Jesus said, "My yoke is easy and my burden is light." That's a great stabilizing notion right there! If you've walked away from a faith community, consider coming back to one that will help keep you stabilized for a healthier, happier more balanced life.