Ecclesiastes might seem an odd choice for the holidays but it’s a book that relates to many people this time of year. The Preacher grapples with the question, “how can I live a full life?” For some the holidays are a reminder of what’s missing, whether they have had loved ones pass or no one with which to share the holiday. The financial strain of the holidays can also be challenging. Either way the holidays can be difficult, so it’s important for us to see how we can find Joy this time of year. At first glance it is difficult to see how such a mournful book might help us to understand fulfillment and find happiness. The writer begins his work by exclaiming, “Everything is meaningless”. The Preacher finds one thing however that he sees as a gift of God, to enjoy food and drink and find satisfaction in our work. It’s a gift that harkens back to God’s original gift in creation. In Genesis 1, God tells Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the whole world and reign over it. He gives them food to eat and work for their hands. The preacher looks at the joy he gets from these fundamental parts of life and recognizes that without God he could not even have those things.
What the Preacher could not know, and what Christians are privy too is the great mystery of God, that He planned before the forming of the world to bring all things in heaven and earth under Christ. The futility of the world read through the eyes of the Preacher is replaced with God’s promises. The truth we find in the Preachers words is that this world is futile in many ways. Everything under the sun comes and goes. How many of us have felt months and years frittered away by the futility of life. As the preacher says, “there is nothing new under the sun.” In Jesus however we find something new. We discover God breaking into the world, ending the merry-go-round of life, and pushing us toward our future with Him.
What Jesus did through his life, death, and resurrection, gave us back every moment and made it precious. It’s the reason we read Paul rejoicing despite his discouragement about being in prison. Even in moments he felt great despair Paul kept the joy and hope he had in Jesus. So while the Preacher teaches us a valuable lesson in Ecclesiastes, a full life doesn’t come from the world, every moment is given new meaning in Jesus as we rest in God’s promises and hope for the day we dwell in God’s presence. As we sit together around the table this year take thanks in honor of God who brings joy to every moment whether it be with Turkey, burnt rolls, or both