Traditional: 8:45 AM
Contemporary: 11:00 AM
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
Later this week we are treated to some of the best-known passages in the book of Ecclesiastes in our daily readings. King Solomon, the likely author of the book, observes with poetic beauty the vanity or relative meaninglessness of life under the sun; as nature continues in its cycles and the efforts of humankind vanish and are forgotten. He reports that he tried every manner of human indulgence, lavishly enjoying unprecedented luxury and human pleasure, only to find it all unsatisfying folly. He contemplates the times and the seasons appointed to all things, concluding that it is God’s good pleasure that humankind should enjoy the simple rhythms of eating and drinking in light of all their toil. In all of his observations, King Solomon observes that everything under the sun in which humankind might find meaning pales in comparison with the order of God’s creation and the eternal nature of God’s perspective. Human wisdom, for which Solomon is known, finds its limit.
These passages in Ecclesiastes are wonderfully paired with a text from 1 Corinthians. We read in 1 Corinthians 1:18-19 that “the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’” The Scripture goes on to explain that wisdom cannot save us. That wisdom is foolish in light of the cross. Rather, in the midst of our foolishness – thinking that we can achieve meaning in this world apart from God; thinking that we’ll find fulfillment in human pleasure; thinking that our accomplishments are significant in light of God’s unchanging power and presence – in the midst of all this foolishness, God takes action through his Son Jesus Christ to save us.
Fulfillment comes not in the vanity and folly of this world, but in eternal life with Jesus Christ our Lord. That is the final chapter; the answer to our longing for meaning; the hope for which we long. This is why the section in 1 Corinthians concludes in verse 25, “For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.”
This Epiphany season, we celebrate once again that the Light of the World has come into the darkness. The Wisdom of God breaks into our vanity and foolishness, lifting our eyes from the folly of this world’s aspirations to the sure and certain hope of resurrection life through Jesus Christ our Lord.