This week our journey through Ecclesiastes at St. Mark’s brings us to the sobering topic of death. The Teacher reminds us that this is something that we all have to face eventually, and which makes us evaluate the meaning and purpose of our lives. One of the themes in our passage from Ecclesiastes 9 is the difficulty of remembrance when it comes to death. He laments that eventually even the memory of our lives will fade among those who come after us. This is something that our nation will be reflecting on as we come to Remembrance Day next Saturday, that it takes effort and intention not to forget those who have served and sacrificed for our country.
But we also tend to have difficulty remembering that our own death is coming, and to take account of that. In the Middle Ages there was a common practice of including a small skull somewhere in portraits and other works of art as what was called a ‘memento mori’ or ‘reminder of death’, so that people would be continually nudged to reflect on this and to live their lives accordingly, pursuing spiritual life and growth as well as material success.
All this can induce a feeling of gloom, but we will also be reflecting on what Jesus said and did to address the reality of death, and remembering the bright hope that he brings us in his Resurrection, that we are not forgotten by God and he has plans to give us life.