Archive for January 31st, 2008

One Life to Live

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

Please read Ecclesiastes 9:7-10. The translation below was by the author of today’s installment.

“Go to it then. Eat your food and enjoy it, and drink your wine with a cheerful heart; for God has already accepted what you have done. Always be dressed in white and never fail to anoint your head. Enjoy life with the one you love all the fleeting days of your allotted span here under the sun; for that is your lot while you live and labor here under the sun. Whatever work you find to do, do it with strength. For there is nothing of work, explanation, knowledge, or wisdom in the land of the dead where you will go.”

Links are provided (NRSV) (The Message) if you’d like to compare translations.

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me in this passage? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two before reading on.

My thoughts on this passage (Tyler Connoley):

I’ve always liked Qoholet, the ‘Teacher’ of Ecclesiastes. I appreciate his honesty about the way the world works. He acknowledges that, sometimes, bad things happen to good people, and bad people prosper at the expense of the good. He is a man who tried every pleasure the world had to offer, and found them all vanity, literally “like smoke.”

In his book, Qoholet doesn’t get bogged down in lofty theology, or preach a prosperity gospel that promises an easy life for the faithful. What he does focus on, what he promises, is that we can enjoy the time we have on this earth if we’re willing to accept what God gives us for today. His is a practical book, telling us how to get the most out of a world that often seems unfair and chaotic.

Ecclesiastes 9:7-10 is a pointed reminder to live in the present moment. These verses are an admonition from someone who has been-there-done-that, and finally found the key to real happiness: Enjoy the things you have, instead of worrying about the things you don’t have; do what you do well, instead of wishing you had someone else’s talent.

The secondary message of this text is just as important: God accepts you as you are. Particularly for those of us who don’t conform to society’s norms, this can’t be said often enough. In a society that expects us all to be straight and gender-conforming, Qoholet says, “God has already accepted what you have done. Always be dressed in white and never fail to anoint your head with oil.” Love yourself, because God has already anointed you as a royal heir.

Thought for the day: Qoholet says, eat and drink with joy. Carry yourself with dignity. Love with gusto. And do the best work you can. In short, enjoy the life God gave you, because it’s the only one you’ve got.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to start, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
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