At the moment we can often look out from our back verandah and see mists and rain covering the hills below, so that the view into the valley is obscured. It’s nice to look at from inside, but less pleasant to walk through!
In two weeks we will be starting a new series at St. Mark’s looking at the book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament. This is what they call a ‘wisdom’ book of the Bible, which describes life as it is in the world and how we can face it truthfully and live well. Ecclesiastes famously begins with the declaration that ‘Everything is meaningless!’. The word for ‘meaningless’ in Hebrew is the word for mist, smoke, vapour, things that have no substance or permanence, that blow away in the wind.
Ecclesiastes faces the reality that our lives are fragile, fleeting, and that everything that we do passes away like a mist. In that case, life can feel confusing, where we don’t know where to go and the meaning of what we do. We have no choice but to accept this in the end. But in the midst of this, life is still full of enjoyment and good things – as the writer of Ecclesiastes argues, we should ‘eat, drink and be merry’, to enjoy the life that God has given us. But still all this is ‘meaningless’.
So Ecclesiastes is a book that cries out for an answer to the problem of meaninglessness. We will think in our series about what Jesus has to say about the meaning of life, and how to live well as we walk through the mist.