M is for … Breathe the Music!

M is for … Breathe the Music

how is it that music

reaches

‘Ordinary’ Light, Ordinary Days

deep down inside our hearts

and strums

on something so deep

that penetrates the hidden reaches

giving joy

sadness

and hope

all in 

one

fell swoop

Every Piece of Life Compressed into Harmonies

as if our existence were mathematically determined by the progressions of 4ths and 5ths 

major and minor, and 7ths for spice

bringing memories

long lost

to

the wear

and

tear of

loving once and amen

a

crazy spouse

who will

not stop at

anything

less than my death.

I in retreat and holding for God’s deliverance

if only in small parcels, then so be it, but hoping for

place and opportunity to work, write, and take photos.

Finding the path Despite the Trees, White as they may seem.

What

is hope that

music strums to it

as

if

…?

Where does the feeling come from

that we can think of something other than the harmonies

as if God had not created the harmony of the spheres with

other than words sung

so powerful

like a hand extended in love to care for another,

the touch of empathy, concern, and ties to the divine, the infinite;

quite a privilege

for a small finite sinner creature

Ever onward through the weeds, across the calm of life’s chaos to the Light Setting.

who is older

day by

day

until 

the ground accepts ones chemicals

once again.

For then the music will flow freely.

Fear … NOT!

No Worries Mate, Treasure Threatened

Decades ago a friend lost his credit card so he phoned to get a new one. After putting him on hold the man on the phone came back in his Aussie accent, “No worries mate. We have you covered.” Which made my friend start to worry. Did he miss something? What did they have covered? If the card was maxed out it’d take years to pay it off.

When something threatens our treasure, pulses quicken, blood pressure rises and worries multiply.

Storm Clouds threaten the Light

Do Not Be Afraid: powerful words

God comes to Abram and starts with, “Do not be afraid.” Jesus speaks to his disciples and often starts with, “Do not be afraid….” These are not like the Aussie, ‘no worries mate’. These are powerful, life-changing words.

Imaginary, Real, Abuse of Fears

Life is full of imaginary worries: a man reacts with that ancient instinct from back when threats to our lives were around every tree. He worries about his next meal even though his fridge, freezer and bank account are quite full. Or the middle-aged woman who as a child witnessed her mom being repeatedly abused by soldiers, and now suffers a form of PTSD. She fears everyone who tries to care for her, projecting her terror on to them and blaming them for anything bad that happens, even if she is the one at fault.

Yet, besides Fear of God, which begins every journey with God for us sinners, too often fear is real. Everywhere people die from the lack of life’s basics: clean air and water, nourishing food, adequate clothing, or sufficient shelter. War threatens lives. Refugees flea only to be at the mercy of other countries. A few weeks ago, the earth came close to being hit by an asteroid big enough to have the effect of many nuclear bombs, landing us in a dark age, literally, with the sun blocked by the fallout. If that’s not enough the effects of climate change could make coastal cities uninhabitable by 2075 or earlier. Think Vancouver, Montreal, NYC, Miami, most of Micro Indonesia and more!

And then corrupt would-be-leaders drum up fear in order to manipulate more and more power from us until we have none left. Too often we fall for it all and do senseless things to make ourselves feel safe, as if we could get out of life alive.

Story: no bomb shelter needed

A pastor remembers fondly when their next door neighbours built a bomb shelter … in 1959. She asked her Dad if they were getting one. He was a military man and he said, “Believe me, you don’t need one.” Back then that assurance meant to her that nothing bad would happen. Years later she realized it meant that if the bombs fell, a shelter was so inadequate it wouldn’t do her any good. (Ann Brezendine Sermonshop 08)

Do Not be Afraid, Pleasure to give KoG

Jesus comes with a fuller response: Do not be afraid! For it is God’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom! Here on earth we do not need a bomb shelter. But in this world’s kingdoms our expectations of our leaders often net us what we deserve, both good and bad. From that there is no shelter, either.

3 am Fears

Kamala Harris, running her 3am Agenda, hopes to be the next US President. In the face of fear politics gone amok, she tells people she will work on those things that they worry about at 3 am.

The thing about 3 am fears is that they can be real or imagined, but they almost always are exaggerated and amplified so that they demand we deal with them; or else they eat away at what’s left of our souls.

God comes to Abram in a vision. And it may as well have been 3 am in his tent, for Abram is consumed by worry that he has no son to be his heir.

Do not Fear: shield and reward

Yet God comes with a promise: Do not be afraid. [Even at 3 am.] For God is your shield and your reward will be great.

Abram and Sara’s Story: God’s work, timeline, not ours

Abram and Sara have cause for real fear. They left their home in Ur, traveled great distances not knowing where to go, lived in tents, and struggled to survive. Despite God’s Promises they still have no son or land! Both are way too old to have a child. Is God against Abram and Sara?

Even so: God says again, “Do not be afraid.”

We may think we know where our life is going. We only notice our error when our plans tumble into the dust. Then, lost in the chaos, we can listen, for God speaks right to us: “Do not be afraid.” And there is MORE!

Where do you think your life is going? Follow the Light … of Christ.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Yet for Abram and Sara to trust God’s Word, given and so many times not fulfilled, now requires more than any human can muster on their own.

Do Not be Afraid and More

God comes and says, “Do not be afraid.” And then God creates faith in their hearts, so they do not need to be afraid. As we listen we will know these words and faith are also for us. And there is still MORE!

God Reckons Righteousness

God does one more remarkable thing in this passage. God reckons this gift of faith as righteousness for Abram. This is the same reckoning that God does for us in our baptisms.

God’s ‘spreadsheet’

What is this reckoning? It is as though God has a spreadsheet.

Under each person’s name there is a bookkeeping of the events in that person’s life with their positive and negative values and in another column the value of that person’s relationship with God. Because math can represent the entirety of creation, God totals it all up into one number.

If that number is anything less than infinity, that person is not acceptable to God. After a useless life on earth, God strokes the Smote Key on the keyboard of eternity and they no longer exist (or something like that. You get the idea.)

Surprise! God deals with Abram differently. Even though God has placed faith in Abram, God decides to ‘cheat’ with Abram’s values and call it more than good enough. God places God’s own infinite value, the infinity symbol (the lazy 8 laying on its side, ), as Abram’s total.

What is most remarkable is there is then NO event that can possibly subtract enough from his value to God to change the end result: it will remain, no matter what Abram does, as an infinite value. ∞

What does this mean for us?

What does this mean for us?

What it means is that for each of us at our baptisms God provides Jesus’ infinite value ∞ on our reckoning sheet as our value to God.

It does not mean that God gives us everything we think we would want. God does not give us an easy and comfortable life. Rather the opposite. God keeps placing new challenges in front of us all through our lives.

It does not mean that God gives us success, respect, or admiration. Rather God lets us live rejected, as were the early Christians, and dishonoured as was Jesus. The world sees us as fools working to bring life abundant to others.

Fools’ Project Zinga

There is a fools’ project, for instance, in Zinga north of Dar Es Salaam. A few people started with a bare piece of ground, with bare bank accounts. In a few years they want to turn that place into the first Children’s Hospital in Tanzania. They trust that a 91 year old doctor and his nurse wife, on fund raising tours in North America 6 months of every year, will raise enough interest and personal commitment from enough people willing to provide enough money, materials and skills and expertise of all kinds to make it a reality. All with no promise of success.

Promise, Not as we imagine, not on our deadline

God does not promise us that God will provide what we think God’s will for us is. Just because we once thrived, or because others still thrive, does it mean that God promises we will thrive again, as we imagine. God promises to be with us through our successes and our failures. God promises to send us new visions of what God intends for us. But God may not fulfill God’s promises to us on our timeline, maybe not even for generations.

Challenge, Treasure, Hearts, Delight, City or Woods

The challenge for us, our whole lives, is not to make ourselves good for God. Jesus steps in for us, gives us infinite value ∞ to God and says, “Do not be afraid.” And there is MORE.

God delights that we live now and for eternity in God’s kingdom. We can live well. All things can be well. All manner of things are well. And there is still MORE.

God prepares a city for us, or maybe a retreat beside pristine water. City or retreat, God prepares a perfect home for us in the future, for eternity.

We can listen and hear these words and know that they are for us: God plans for our futures, and for eternity. We do not need to be afraid!

Practice: Delight, Reckoning, & Service

We can respond, by practicing being who we aspire to be, who God wants us to be, putting our treasure in God, the only place where it is safe. These are not the treasures of wealth, earthly security, power, position, skills or abilities. Instead our treasure is to practice reckoning to others infinite value ∞ and sharing God’s delight that others live in God’s kingdom. Our treasure is to practice serving others, giving them the same grace and love God first gives us.

We do not need to be afraid, for our treasure from God cannot be taken from us, nor subtracted from, not even at 3 am. Our treasure goes on to infinity ∞, like the stars in the sky.

A fuller perspective: The ‘Storm Clouds’ are topped by Light!

Amen

Trees, Stars, and Passion for Beauty and Order

Trees: Aim Between

When skiing in the mountains on a slope with trees on it


I’ve taught more than a few people how to ski. Invariably we arrive on top of a slope where there are trees at least dotting the slope. The student looks with apprehension. I say respect the trees, but do not fear them. Do not look at them or you will head straight into one of them. Look at the snowy hillside between the trees where you want to ski.


Three Lessons full of Trees


Lost in the Fog of Delusion


OT: The self deluded Teacher Fool

We heard the Teacher in today’s first Lesson say:

Vanity of vanities! … All is vanity.

Our labour produces great results but our results are left to others, who may be wise or foolish.

Ecclesiastes


It is tempting to think he may be right: that God has created, humans have worked, and nothing is worth anything. But the Teacher’s wisdom is a big forest of trees of hopelessness.
Here God’s truth disappears like the misty fog evaporating with the rising sun. Then any lie can be presented as if true. Despair takes on all sorts of guises. Instead of being thankful, one demands more and more of things that cannot fill the empty void that should be one’s heart.
This kind of life is at war with itself and the ensuing conflict and chaos allow one to hide from accountability, hope, love and even Jesus.


NT: The Different Life of Lists

In contrast the writer of Colossians reminds us that Christ raises us differently, into life free from what destroys us.
The writer then presents us with lists of things to leave behind: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry), anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language. Do not lie to one another.
These are more trees to avoid.

The one exception would be passion, though as all God’s gifts, passion can be abused and used as a destructive force in one’s own life and in others’.

Since the early Christians, including the Colossians, expected Jesus to return in their own lifetimes, their sense of urgency valued the freedom of celibacy and devalued the ties of passion. But God created passion as an important and healthy motivation for much of life including marriage, parenting, care of the earth and the building of a just society.


Gospel: Using Jesus for Greed

Today’s Gospel is a great parable within a parable: A man comes to use Jesus to get an inheritance from his brother, against the tradition of the time.
Through the ages we human beings have more than perfected the use of Jesus or Religion to pound others down and try to feed our own greed.
Greed is related to gluttony.

“A glutton is (a person) who raids the icebox for a cure for spiritual malnutrition.”

(Wishful Thinking, F Buechner)

Gluttony and Greed kill us as we try to eat or possess more than we can stand.
To teach us this, Jesus tells a parable of the pathetic wealthy man who after a great harvest, builds new barns to hold it and anticipates the remainder of his life as an easy retirement. But his possessions are the end of him. It’s all for naught!


Lots of Trees to Avoid

That gives us lots of trees to avoid. There is precious little of what we should aim for. It’s like skiing down a mountain and all we see are trees.

Look beyond the Trees


Where is Grace

So where is the Good News?


NT: Look above

The writer of Colossians points us to set our minds on things that are above. So looking up ever since we lived in caves we see the stars, the moon and the sun. Aided by the passionate drive of George Ellery Hale, and so many others, to see and learn more by building bigger and better telescopes in the last 100 years, what we see is astoundingly mind boggling. (E.g. see the documentary Journey to Palomar)
Before, we knew the earth, one of nine planets, revolved around the sun. Now, we’ve seen numerous planetoids, one being Pluto, so there are only eight planets. We know our sun has a magnetic field, with flares that cause the northern lights and disrupt satellite communications. We know about galaxies, that most of the matter in the universe is invisible, that the universe is expanding and the universe is so, so much larger than we ever imagined! We have not found alien life, but in the immense expanse of the universe it is probable, if not guaranteed.
We have seen God’s handiwork in the awesome expanse and workings of the universe and begun to understand their impact on our daily lives.
Are these ‘the things above’ that we are to aim for? Maybe not, one would quickly say. But then perhaps we ought not be too quick to decide.


Rest of Scripture

With so many trees in our lessons, we look to the rest of Scripture and the Christian Church’s history, to guide us to the joy of life ‘skiing’, as it were, without hitting the trees.


Relationships Trinity

We believe that God is Trinitarian. God is three in one. In part that means that the basic reality of God is that God is in relationship. We are created in God’s image, so we know we are created to be in relationship.


God Loves, We love

Luther taught that the core of the Gospel could be summed up in one short passage “ God so loved the world that God sent his only Son so that everyone believes in Jesus may have eternal life.” God loves – us … and the whole universe God created! In relationships we are to love one another and all of creation.
The Teacher’s wisdom is folly because he ignores other people as God’s good creatures. Work is not to be hated, rather it is to be joyful and rewarding precisely because it provides for others, just as God has provided for us!
The pathetic farmer in Jesus’ parable is consumed by his possessions because he has no sense that his bounty is a gift from God entrusted to him to be shared with others.


The wonders of Creation



God’s Grace and Work

We know God’s Grace for us. We know that God comes to us, forgives us, makes us righteous before God, by Grace (in other words, as a gift that we do not earn!)
We know that God does this first, then we can get down to living and working as God’s own children in this marvelous creation.


Riches with God

In today’s Gospel Lesson, Jesus points us ‘to build up riches with God’. It is easy to understand that our ‘riches with God’ are what God gives us, namely God’s Grace and all that flows from it.


Our work: Response, because … therefore

We know then our work is NOT to make ourselves good enough for God. Everything we do is to be a response to God’s Grace for us.
Because God makes us Good, perfect before God,
therefore we can fully engage in creation. We can be passionate about life and the goodness of creation, so that we can share the necessities of life and the wonders of the universe with ALL other people, in the present and for all generations to come.
The Teacher in Ecclesiastes had no room for any passion for sharing the beauty of life with others. He had no passion to know that God’s love moved God to speak a word “Let there be Light,” and after 7 days to say, “it is good!”
In the resulting blessed creation of order and beauty, we can be passionately engaged in the wonders of the universe.
We can share this life with another person with the passion of a marriage. We can invest in friendships that carry us, our friends, and people around the world through the trials of life.
Sharing God’s riches brings us to be so passionate about life that we can expend all of our lives striving to see and share our place in God’s awesome universe. For some of us that may mean building bigger and better telescopes. For all of us it means respecting but leaving behind the ‘trees’ of judgment, condemnation and lists, sharing instead God’s Grace with all people. We can choose to make justice a reality for each person.

Sharing God’s riches is possible for everyone.
We could choose not to share God’s riches. But why would we?


Story: We Ain’t Poor by Florence Ferrier


In the story We Ain’t Poor! the Sheldons, a large family in the Appalachians, live in severe financial distress after a series of misfortunes. They receive inadequate assistance, yet they manage their meager income with ingenuity — and without complaint.
One fall day the social worker “visits the Sheldons in the ramshackle rented house they lived in at the edge of the woods. Despite a painful physical handicap, Mr. Sheldon had shot and butchered a bear, which strayed into their yard once too often. They canned it so that there would be meat even during the worst of the winter when their fuel costs were high.
The social worker reported: “Mr. Sheldon offered me a jar of bear meat. I hesitated to accept it, but he said kindly and firmly. ‘Now you just have to take this. We don’t have much, that’s a fact; but we ain’t poor!’“[In astonished disbelief, the social work asked, ‘How can you say that?’] His answer proved unforgettable.
“’When you can give something away, even when you don’t have much, then you ain’t poor. When you don’t feel easy giving something away even if you got more’n you need, then you’re poor, whether you know it or not.’”

(Gospel Notes 2001, Brian Stoffregen, reworked TL)


Look at the World all around you! … God has made us Rich and given us the ability to see more and more of the universe as God’s amazing creation … Can we say ‘We ain’t poor!’?
Amen


I do not have much, but it is more than enough!

2019.08Aug04 Pentecost

Readings and Psalm

Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14; 2:18-23 
Psalm 49:1-12 
Colossians 3:1-11 
Luke 12:13-21 


Explanation

These are a number of thoughts collected about the lessons for this Sunday.
Not really the sermon at all yet. But the challenges faced in finding a sermon when the lessons reflect heresies rejected by the Church, false wisdom, and admonitions of what not to be, but very little Gospel, Grace or … even Faith, Hope or Love.

Trees

When skiing in the mountains on a slope with trees on it
Fear focuses one on the trees.
But that is most likely going to get one right into a tree.
One needs to focus on the good spaces between the trees where one wants to ski.

The trees are hard, aim between them.


Do Not

The Word for today: all of what we ought not to do?
OT: the Wisdom, of a Fool, Disconnected from relationships
NT: the Lists, hardly the freedom of Christ, and then Passion excluded, Passion which is God’s gift of fully engaging in life!
Gospel: Greed, the thing that destroys life. Possessions, the things that overtake life.


The hints of Grace:

OT:
nothing
NT:
seek things above
clothed yourself with the new self, being renewed in the image of its creator
in the renewal distinctions are gone, all are the same, Greek and Jew
Gospel:
Be rich (not in possessions) but towards God


What is Left?

Talk about the folly of each: the what we are not to be
Bring to it our own assurance of God’s Grace: and how it applies to these foolishness, bad advice, and condemnation of being possessed by possessions.
Bring to it our own sense of relationships as essential to human life, to the nature of God, i.e. Trinity,
of accountability and responsibility to future generations


Seek Things above:

The Movie: The Journey to Palamor

The story of astronomical exploration through telescopes and our understanding of the universe: rate of expansion, quasars, galaxies, black matter, black holes, and on it goes.
At one time Hale said the Wilson telescope would allow us to see the nature of the creator of the universe.
Criticized: not to see the face of God
Applauded: God’s handiwork is more marvelous than ever imagined.
From the Earth being circled by lights (stars) and the sun and (planets) to the universe expanding out from one great explosion and the end of the universe coming when that explosion collapses on itself in b/trillions of years.


Astronomy today:

Thoughts about Each Lesson


OT: The self deluded fool


Vanities all that is is vanities

It is too common that we focus only on the stuff under our feet, and we miss the Light.


This supposedly wise man thinks he has it all well and good.

He says: Our toils produce and others enjoy it, who may be wise or foolish.
He has no family, no friends, no community.
This is a man who is a rock unto himself,
He has laboured, and known great results, great wealth, great power, King of the people, enough that he identifies his being with the results of his labours and in his misguided wisdom he declares that God has created, man has worked, and nothing is worth anything more than the vapour of self-importance based on absolutely nothing at all.


The life with this fool’s perspective

What does this kind of life look like?
It is a life where one makes oneself important.
It is a life where God’s truth disappears into the vapours like the mists of the fog disappearing with the rising sun. And then anything that one wants can become the truth, or rather the lies that one believes are true.
People are sacrificed. People do not count as people. They become stepping stones to make one succeed at whatever one counts that decade, that year, that month, that day as worth achieving.
It is a life where despair takes on all sorts of guises, where one does not sacrifice to give other’s life. It is a life where instead of being thankful for what one has, one demands more and more of things that cannot fill the empty void that should be one’s heart and soul and full mind.
It is a life that is at war with life itself. Where conflict and chaos allow one to hide from accountability or hope or love or … Jesus.
It is a life that accepts that violence and vengeance are acceptable.


Story We Ain’t Poor

Florence Ferrier In the story We Ain’t Poor! a social worker in poverty-stricken Appalachia tells of her work with the Sheldons, a large family in severe financial distress after a series of misfortunes. The help they received was not adequate, yet they managed their meager income with ingenuity — and without complaint.
One fall day the social worker “visited the Sheldons in the ramshackle rented house they lived in at the edge of the woods. Despite a painful physical handicap, Mr. Sheldon had shot and butchered a bear, which strayed into their yard once too often. The meat had been processed into all the big canning jars they could find or swap for. There would be meat even during the worst of winter when their fuel costs were high.
“Mr. Sheldon offered me a jar of bear meat. I hesitated to accept it, but the giver met my unspoken resistance firmly. ‘Now you just have to take this. We want you to have it. We don’t have much, that’s a fact; but we ain’t poor!’“[The social work asked, ‘How can you say that?’] His answer proved unforgettable.
“’When you can give something away, even when you don’t have much, then you ain’t poor. When you don’t feel easy giving something away even if you got more’n you need, then you’re poor, whether you know it or not.’”
[Can we say] ‘We ain’t poor!’?

(Gospel Notes 2001, Brian Stoffregen, reworked TL)


NT: The Different Life: In Christ

In contrast to the wise king’s hopeless lack of vision in God’s creation, because he only knows himself, and does not let anyone into his own life, the writer of Colossians reminds us that Christ raises us differently into life free from what destroys us.

There is something wonder-filled in all the universe that points to a mystery: a Creator that Loves and Creates with Words, First Light!


Passion embraced

We can wonder that passion is somehow among the writer’s list of things that are to be left behind. Though if we remember that their expectations were that Jesus would return and the world would end, so leaving passion behind seemed a wise thing.


Living Now with Passion, Beauty

We know centuries later that the end may come at any time but we none the less must live so that the world is also filled with hope for our children and grandchildren, and generations after them. At creation God’s gifts includes passion. God’s gifts always include passion as a gift that binds us to one another. This is what the king had no room for. He had no passion to share the beauty of life with another person. He had no passion to know that God’s love and passion for creatures moved God to speak a word “Let there be Light.” From God’s simple words the whole of what is came into being.
But chaos of the life that the king has found where everything is futile and vapours and vanity, that is what God took and with a word created non-chaos, creation. We live in that blessed creation of order and beauty.


Grace Required

It is not perfect, for God loved us enough to give us freewill. We choose, too often, not to love all creation with the passion that God put into those words: “Let there be Light!”. Each of us requires God’s great sacrifice of Jesus, God’s son, to redeem us, to make us good in God’s eyes. But then … then the whole of creation in all it’s order and beauty and passions and hope and loves transforms all that we see and know. Not just for ourselves, but for the next generation, and all the generations to come.


Story The Next Generations Ain’t Heavy


A family, in a country of a repressive government, were placed under house arrest. Under pressure from other nations, the parents were told they could leave the country, but that they could only take two hundred pounds with them. So the family began to argue about and sort through what to take: computers, cooking utensils, books, toys, clothing; what was most important? Finally they had decided.
An official came to the door. “Are you ready?” “Yes, we’re ready. We’ve packed two hundred pounds.” The official asked, “Did you weigh the children?” Suddenly, computers, pots & pans, books, toys, clothing seemed absolutely worthless.

(Sharla Hulsey, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Sac City, Iowa reworked TL2001 reworked kas 2016)


Luke: Greed

Greed, It is a false passion that takes all the joys and hopes and dreams and real visions of the goodness of creation, denies them all, and tries to replace them with a thing, a quantity, a power, a gathering of wealth.

Definition Greed

Greed is related to gluttony; it kills us as we try to possess too much. “A glutton is (a person) who raids the icebox for a cure for spiritual malnutrition.”

(Wishful Thinking, F Buechner)

But the world is not good because one has money, or power, or anything else.


Ante-Greed, Sacrificial Labour and Love

The world God created is made of sacrificial love. Life sharing love. Labours for others, for the next generations. Time so precious for we only have so many days on this wonder-filled world. We have only so many minutes to share God’s own beauty with others.
The world God created us to live in brings us a life of challenges, hopes, and dreams, some too often dashed, promises realized, or not. Always God calls us to see so far beyond all our possessions.
We all get caught by them and they possess us. But Jesus lived, died and rose back to life, just so that we can see beyond what would capture and suffocate our hearts. We can see those things above. And seeing the things above we can know how precious God names all those things that are this earth, this world, this wonder.


What life? Choose!

What life do you want to live?
A life of vanities, all is vapours, all is for nothing, for generations of fools will follow us.
Or
A life of dreams, passionate beauty, simple joys, shared so that they multiply and bring us all to hope, to hope that our labours will give the goodness of life to others, for generations to come.

Choose to live in the Light, Looking to the Reality
of God’s Grace
Giving, Sustaining and Guiding all Life.


Scratch Notes on Each Lesson


Scratch OT Thoughts

Vanity, also vapour.
All is vanity: this is a BAD take on God’s good creation


Not Wisdom, Folly

This is not wisdom, this is stupidity, faithlessness, depression, self-based delusion of world-denying-God thoughts. This is in the Canon: one can only point out how wrong it is!
The Teacher, when King, (probably NOT a king then a teacher!)


Pretentious

I saw all the deeds: This guy is pretentious. No human can see all the deeds done.
From such a skewed take on his own reality and place in creation, he comes to the conclusion that ‘all is chasing after the wind.’
Tapes our fears
This has a ring to it that seems true. We’ve all had the feeling that life is useless and labour the most useless part of it.
It is tempting to think that it is right. It is tempting, but it is not right or healthy or wise or blessed, or anything worth much except to create fear in people instead of calm that feeds good labours that bring the fullness of life to oneself, one’s family, community, and to others, i.e. strangers, guests, sojourners, enemies.


Choice of Hate:

hated: well that is a choice of how to respond to the world, a bad choice, an against-God, faith, life choice. No wonder the ‘Teacher’ ends up thinking as he does!


To hate work

hated his toils: That is a choice, a choice of privilege and luxury. Hatred of the essential work to stay alive is a sure way to come to an abrupt and early end. Even despicable labour, if required for life, has a redeeming value. Tedious work today has the reward of a pay-cheque, which enables one to eat, have shelter, provide for one’s family.
To love (boring) work
Making work that is tedious nonetheless interesting is valuable skill of living well. It is a choice to learn it, it is a choice to refuse to learn it.
Nearly everyone gets lots of opportunity to learn it. Only the decadent wealthy can skip that one!


Devolved Despair, ante-faith

The texts devolves into foolishness: despair and complaint that one’s labours can be such to provide for the next generation(s), though one cannot control whether they be wise or foolish who inherit the benefit of one’s labours.
Where is this guy’s sense of community, of continuity, or existing through the results of his labours in a small way contributing to the future generations.
All of this is not only missing, it is flat out bemoaned as possible! That is the essence of EVIL. To take what is blessing and make it cursed!
He turns his heart to despair: this is the antithesis of faith! A choice.


Benefits of Labour

What do mortals get from their labours: they get meaning and life well lived and a legacy … and joy and hope, and the pleasure of seeing things accomplished that would not otherwise be if one did not labour!
YES: our days are full of pain and vexation. Our nights full of minds that do not rest. For we worry when and how we do not need to, which produces no good results … BECAUSE we do not trust that God is at work in our labours as well!
BECAUSE we turn from the blessing of God’s presence, and try to live on our own.
And that kind of living, trying to live separate from God our creator, redeemer and inspirer/guide, is what leads to all sorts of EVIL starting with abandoning one’s heart to despair/Evil/hatred/vengeance/blindness: conflict, sexual misconduct, abuse, lies, wars, and destruction of creation and people.
So the Teacher is right: abandon God (as if one could) and then all is just vanity, vapour, ethereal, false, empty, futile, meaningless … and all that is the basis of stupidity, not wisdom.
So the guy is all screwed up, like us all.


Psalm Thoughts

Know our place: we are creatures and all of us will die, wise or foolish. Our riches can never make life good. Only God can do that for us. God has done that for us.


Scratch NT Thoughts

This psuedo pauline thought is treacherously deceptive: but there is a core that is healthy and helpful:
Christ moves us beyond our Past
There are things in our past, which Christ moves us beyond.
Look above, to the heavens. See God’s truth,
There are things that make for life, and redeemed by Christ, raised up with Christ we can live better (not good enough for God, for that we require Christ’s redemption first, foremost and throughout to the last).

Hidden to be revealed

The anticipation of Christ’s return: of us being hidden with Christ and revealed in Glory with Christ is wonderful
and deceptive.
Life as faithful that is secret is not full life. But at times that has been the only option forward for the faithful as forces would destroy them if they revealed themselves as Christ’s – see the Missionaries to Japan, the movie where they denounce Christ, even write tracts against Christianity, but in secret they continue to witness to their faith and those who in secret know what to look for, see their witness and their sacrifice.
The ultimate sacrifice: giving up one’s faith to be faithful witnesses
They sacrifice the ability to practice, profess and teach the faith. They spit on God, and on Jesus, they tread on the Bible. But they remain faithful!
For outward practices are NOT faith.

Lists of ‘faith practices’

Christ is the ALL in ALL. All our whimpy attempts to reduce faith to a certain set of practices is vanity, all vanity, and a temptation to deny true faith in our hearts, minds, souls, families, churches, communities, nations, world, and in all of God’s creation.
So the writer’s lists of what is left behind is … deceptive.
There are things in the list that are destructive, and we can leave them behind if we wish a better, fuller life.
Lists denounce Passion, But Passion is a gift from God
Passion though! That is all wrong. Though passion can be embraced outside of faithful living and run amok. See Sodom and Gomorrah and, and and ….
But passion as the full-hearted embracing of being a body in God’s creation, is truly one of the most precious gifts God made as part of creation. We like Luther, can embrace the mundane as sacred: beer is God’s gift, sexuality is dangerous to deny and a great joy to embrace in a marriage.
The problem with making lists of acceptable behaviours and unacceptable behaviours is it is wrong headed: the destruction is in these, but the foolishness of thinking one can entirely free oneself from sin, or that telling others to is at all helpful, really … the foolishness is profoundly wrong headed and endangers not only oneself, but those to whom one would teach/demand these lists.


Be … Blessed

Be passionate, about God’s beautiful creation and all that is in it, that God has blessed us with short days to enjoy!
Be free in Christ to move beyond selfishness, greed and … that is a list … so that one can live more fully. But always remember that one lives fully only because of Christ’s redemption, not because of one’s efforts to be good.
Be free, be bold, be beautiful, and let God forgive your sin, and all the sin around you.
Breathe the Spirit in. The vapours/vanity/supposed wisdom is actually blessed God present calling us forward out of our despair into the Light of creation.

Scratch Gospel Thoughts:

Using Christ

Using Christ to get ahead, get more,
ahh we have more than perfected the use of God/Christ/Spirit/Religion to pound others down and try to get ahead.


More than abundance

Clear from Christ: life is much more/other than the abundance of possessions. For possessions are not a blessing; they possess one.
They are as much an impediment to the fullness of life as any misappropriation of God’s good creation.
The foolish man, like the ‘wise Teacher who despairs’, thinks only of himself. Good crops, bigger barns, security for the future of the community … all that is good!
The cursed thought: Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.


One’s own treasure, or God’s Gifts

That is the error of death: to think that one’s treasures are ‘for [one’s self]’ Fools who are already walking dead think their treasure is for themselves!
Rather be rich towards God, well that takes no possessions, and even with many possessions it is possible, though the more one is possessed by possessions (the more one possesses one is possessed by them!) the greater the temptation is to find security in one’s own wealth, instead of in God’s mercy and grace!


Our hoarding gives others inability to live, at all.


Then one hoards and is greedy and one denies the ample production of creation which others need! Just to survive, yet alone live abundantly!

The Creation reflects the wonders of the Creator
Let there be Light!