Welcome to St Clement’s.
Today we come to the end of our series looking at the Bible book of Ecclesiastes. Over the term, we’ve travelled with the Teacher, most likely Solomon, on his pursuit to find ultimate meaning in life. His endeavour began as he explored meaning in pleasures of all kinds, before he turned and pursued meaning in philosophy, as he sought to work out how the world worked.
So how did he fare? Well, he didn’t find what he was looking for in the pursuits of his journey. Time after time he found that in and of themselves, his endeavours could not hold up the weight of his pursuit – ultimate meaning in life. Last week as we looked at the first part of chapter 12, we heard the Teacher’s repeated catchphrase one last time, ‘Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher; all is vanity.’ (Ecclesiastes 12:8 NRSV)
So where does this leave the Teacher? The fleeting pleasures, and perplexing paradoxes of life that he so often saw and experienced, propelled him to trust in God, or to pick up on another of his catchphrases, to ‘fear God’. He’s left resting in the sovereignty and the mystery of God and his ways. God is God, our creator and judge, and we are his creatures. And so:
‘The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God, and keep his commandments; for that is the whole duty of everyone. (Ecclesiastes 12:13 NRSV)
I pray that as we experience the fleeting pleasures and perplexing paradoxes of life, we might also learn to fear God.