Vicar's Viewpoint February 2019



Why are we here? What is the meaning and purpose of life? What happens next? These are some of the questions from the youth preparing for Confirmation this year. Perhaps you have had similar questions at some stage in your life or even now in light of current world and national issues or personal circumstances. 


One book of the Bible focusses especially on such questions and it is called Ecclesiastes, written probably by King Solomon towards the end of his life. He is also called ‘The Philosopher’, the lover of wisdom. Yet the regular refrain which is repeated many times in this book is ‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity’ or ‘Meaningless.. everything is meaningless’. However, if we carefully look into the text and the context, Solomon adds ‘under the sun’ for example 1v14 ‘I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.’


One view of the book could be that there is nothing to hope for and really no purpose because ‘when you’re dead, you’re dead’. What’s the point of doing great projects, accumulating wealthy, living a godly life or gaining great knowledge if it will all be wiped away someday, which we cannot control? This could lead to despair and a feeling of hopelessness, as 20thCentury writers Camus, Sartre and Samuel Beckett all wrote in their books and plays.


But another look at the book can give us glimmers of hope and encourage us to ‘Seize the Day’and make the most of the life we have been given.  Famous passages are in Chapter 3 ‘There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven….. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men…Also in Chapter 4 v9,12 ‘Two are better than one… a cord of three strands is not quickly broken’ affirming the value of partnerships including marriage. Chapter 5 reminds us ‘God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few…. Stand in awe of God’. Chapter 9 gives us a positive mandate for enjoying life despite the uncertainties of health, wisdom, justice and poverty.  The philosopher here affirms LIFE  and calls us to live lives of joy and confidence in God’s sovereign care ‘He’s got the whole world in His hands’. His plenteous provision is both for utility and beauty, to be gratefully and joyfully embraced. Marriage and Work especially are affirmed as blessings to be enjoyed in faithfulness, diligence and passion. ‘Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily’9v10Msg. 


The book ends with a call to ‘Remember your Creator in the days of your youth…’12v1 and then gives a poetic description of ageing. The conclusion of the matter is ‘Fear God and keep His commandments’12v13.

A Christian world view includes life ABOVE the sun and we have a hope that is truly ‘out of this world’. Worth exploring and finding?


Simon Holloway