Posts Tagged ‘Ecclesiastes’


Ancient wisdom tradition has the teacher who wrote Ecclesiastes being Solomon. Solomon born out of the forced marriage of David and Bathsheba. The one allowed to build the Temple that God stopped David from due to blood on his hands. Many will read blood on his hands as due to the wars he fought. Yet what is truly blood on your hands? The shattering of the commandments. The use of office power to forcefully rape a woman, plot the murder of her husband through unneeded risk to your own army, then. The image I always loved as the ultimate outcome. The child conceived, in Kyle Baker’s graphic novel about the story of David, shows that the child di not simply not survive birth, rather in the continued rage of power corrupting his soul, David killed the child. Thus, trapping Bathsheba in the ultimate abuse cycle for a woman in a time with no rights.

It is a story played out sadly many times regardless of gender repeatedly throughout the generations. Yet it was Joseph in the line of David that Jesus came through. But think of the Nativity story. Joseph was attempting to be “holy” in his contemplation, much like his line had been about the time. But God was at work to show how things should be in relations between humans. God asked Mary for her consent, her yes for the plan. He then went to Joseph to see if he would be willing to do what is just even though it contravened his societal rules.

This is at the core of the poetry in Ecclesiastes. It is about showing how extremes can strip all of their vocation and voice, leaving us reduced to commodities. Solomon’s empire collapsed because he allowed ideology to take root that was too expansive seeking power, glory and fortune; his father lost his blessing because his took root in black and white.

We missed the brutal warning against misogyny, gentrification and dehumanization milleniums ago. We missed the challenge to embrace a new path 2000 years ago in a Nazareth’s girl yes. Will we continue to miss opportunities to create the world that was breathed into being were all were one and all were equal?

And we are here with the words from 3:1-11, that show the balance of life (and the Birds turned it into a hit song):

1There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:

2-8A right time for birth and another for death,

A right time to plant and another to reap,

A right time to kill and another to heal,

A right time to destroy and another to construct,

A right time to cry and another to laugh,

A right time to lament and another to cheer,

A right time to make love and another to abstain,

A right time to embrace and another to part,

A right time to search and another to count your losses,

A right time to hold on and another to let go,

A right time to rip out and another to mend,

A right time to shut up and another to speak up,

A right time to love and another to hate,

A right time to wage war and another to make peace.

9-13 But in the end, does it really make a difference what anyone does? I’ve had a good look at what God has given us to do—busywork, mostly. True, God made everything beautiful in itself and in its time—but he’s left us in the dark, so we can never know what God is up to, whether he’s coming or going. I’ve decided that there’s nothing better to do than go ahead and have a good time and get the most we can out of life. That’s it—eat, drink, and make the most of your job. It’s God’s gift.

The Message, 3:1-13

 Something we have lost if one simply looks at the political landscape, and the life landscape. David’s are finally being exposed by their Bathsheba’s yet we are losing the voices of other victims. We are not seeing the full scope, because we are taking a pendulum swing to the extreme. The church swings to include LGBTTQ2+ but ignores those whom are differently abled…they may embrace women at certain points of clergy or at all points…yet then stumbles on some other sacramental non-sense. Society says all are welcome, then beats their drum for war saying they do not know how to stop radicalization yet the cure is in belonging same as any fringe group from cults to gangs that take in the one left outside.

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There is a time for healing. Our world struggles with catastrophe of addictions and as lives are lost we argue harm reduction versus abstinence, not realizing the answer resonates in the person and can be both.

We yearn for home. But create barriers for belonging for all. Use our religious texts to lie about poverty being a result of sin or falling short, and not realizing it, like addiction, is a symptom of the roots being shallow and dying.

We love our labels for it can make us feel superior, for we are not them or the other. Yet simply by creating the liberal wherever you say you exist on the spectrum of left-right you have created an us-them paradigm that leads to destruction.

For in each of us a season exists. And where the season leads that is the gift is to the one where the only label that exists is part of the family. For we are, each of us, human. Born of humans. The simplest message God tried to get through the darkness wreaked over generations from David to Joseph with Mary’s simple decision. She upset the world of her tiny village and made the bravest choice possible knowing she could lose all.

Yet her Y-E-S is the season we are in that encompasses the pendulum swings. For it is the eternal gift found in ancient poetry represented by one simple word in English- AND. We abide in the AND by joining Mary’s yes in allowing seasons to exist and realizing communally and individually the answers are not always definitive, but when we are interdependent and without labels our world is better.

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            As we journey as the Magi in this Christmas Season (12 days) what gifts are you bringing to the creche? What season are you bridging and choosing to be in the AND? What YES awaits in your heart?


The minister this Sunday noted how weird it first appears that Matthew 25:31-46 and Ecclesiastes 3:1-13 were paired together. But a bit of reflection and listening you can see the connections. For in Ecclesiastes, the Teacher (who tradition says is Solomon, which adds a whole layer of thought here) is laying out in the poem the rhythm of life, but in the work as a whole lays out that all that matters is living within, through and out of the Holy Mystery we are one with.

Which brings us into the Gospel of Matthew’s story of the sheep and the goats:

31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy[a] angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, in as much as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’

44 “Then they also will answer Him,[b] saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

-Matthew 25:31-46 (New King James Version)

A much-maligned passage as people focus on the judgment aspect, which the separation is a piece of it, but not the full scope of the passage. For it can be an interior separation as well where the ego (sin) that keeps the connection from the Holy Mystery hidden is finally cut off, and in humility true actions of love are revealed. Those true actions are what is seen in the “When did we see…” And the actions laid out appear simple, but all too often are ignored in our world of deserving/undeserving it calls us all to a different level of living, feeling, acting and experiencing. That is the level of a life lived out of love.  When there is a need, we fill it and build the relationship from there. It is the action of interdependence.

But how do we get there?

It comes from a deeper listening of the words of Ecclesiastes. So let us enter the Lectio Divina to see how the Holy Mystery speaks into our hearts. Get comfortable for you will be with the poem three times. Breathe deeply feeling the stress of the day wash away from your system, the sludge blocking your energy burn away. Relax into the chair, feel it as it evaporates into a cushion of years past, as you are within the midst of others listening and learning this teaching.

Prepare yourself for the first hearing, as you hear these words sit with them. What memories/images of your life of joy come up? Sit with those memories for a time.

Now hear these words:

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;
A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain,
And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
And a time to throw away;
A time to tear,
And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak;
A time to love,
And a time to hate;
A time of war,
And a time of peace.

What profit has the worker from that in which he labors? 10 I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.

12 I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, 13 and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God.

-Ecclesiastes 3:1-13 (New King James Version)

Now hear the words a second time, and this time see what images/memories of hope come to your mind. Sit with these a time.

And on the third and final hearing, see what images/memories of you having been loved and expressing love come to the surface, sit with these for a time.

Slowly bring your breathing back to normal, feel the bustle of the past, and the cushion dissolve bringing you back into the now. When you are ready, open your eyes.

Now you may ask how the two connect? Simple those memories, emotions, feelings and images of joy, hope and love you have experienced? That is the Holy Mystery within, that is the wall (ego) that separated you torn down a little. This is where you live out of for the humble answer to “When did I see you…” and know the answer is simply four little letters:

L-O-V-E.

Welcome to 2017.