God is present
Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14, 2:18-23 (NRSVA)
(1) 2 Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher,
vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
12 I, the Teacher, when king over Israel in Jerusalem, 13 applied my mind to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven; it is an unhappy business that God has given to human beings to be busy with. 14 I saw all the deeds that are done under the sun; and see, all is vanity and a chasing after wind.
(2) 18 I hated all my toil in which I had toiled under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to those who come after me 19 —and who knows whether they will be wise or foolish? Yet they will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. 20 So I turned and gave my heart up to despair concerning all the toil of my labours under the sun, 21 because sometimes one who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave all to be enjoyed by another who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. 22 What do mortals get from all the toil and strain with which they toil under the sun? 23 For all their days are full of pain, and their work is a vexation; even at night their minds do not rest. This also is vanity.
Recently, we have had two funerals in our church for people who wanted a Humanist to conduct their funeral. I found it curious that the family specifically requested that the funeral be held in a church — were they simply ‘hedging their bets’ just in case there is a God — or was it something more?
St Augustine of Hippo wrote, “Bidden or unbidden God is present.” For me, this was the key to understanding the needs of the families because, whether or not they could articulate their reasons, or whether or not they spoke ‘church language,’ it didn’t matter. You see, in contrast to the cry of the Preacher in Ecclesiastes that 'Everything is meaningless', somehow God mattered to these grieving people, and only God could meet them in their deep sorrow.
When all is said and done, our wealth, our status, our jobs, our reputation, our bank balance — none of this matters, unless we are one with Christ Jesus and using all that we are and all that we have to embrace, enjoy and reflect His love.
Thank You, eternal God, that I matter to You. Thank You, God of steadfast love, that You give me purpose each day. Thank You, God my doting Parent, for inviting me to be one with You. Amen.