Ecclesiastes Sermon Series: It's more than a few common phrases

              During four Sundays in the month of August, Ann and I will be doing a preaching series from the book of Ecclesiastes. The series will be based on a Listen UP! Bible study, written by Rev. Molly Baskette. Each Sunday the sermon will be based on a part of Ecclesiastes, readings and questions will be provided a week in advance, to allow participants to read the scripture and think about the questions.

Ecclesiastes is a mere 12 chapters, easily readable in an afternoon, but it is not an easy, flowing narrative.  It has defied the efforts of many biblical scholars to organize it into chunks, and maybe is better enjoyed as a kind of “daily devotional” reading. While it is always fruitful to sit down and read a book of the Bible in one sitting--something in our mainline Protestant tradition we almost never do--still, Ecclesiastes bears close reading, slow reading, to really make it give up its wisdom.

Ecclesiastes--in Hebrew, Kohelet, in English, the Teacher or the Preacher. Some know this short book as the most curmudgeonly and cynical of all the books of the Bible. Some praise Ecclesiastes for telling it like it is.  Those who suffer from chronic depression, or who have recently weathered major setbacks in their careers, or who are facing retirement and with it the great void of time and a surfeit of reflection on what their life’s work has meant--all of these folks, and many more, have found comfort and friendship in the practical wisdom and reflections of Kohelet.

Kohelet is the author of some of the most famous bits we remember: not just “nothing new under the sun” but the popular “To everything there is a season…” as well as “vanity of vanities!” This study will divide Ecclesiastes into four sections:

Chapters 1-2, Vapor of Vapors: Everything Evaporates

Chapters 3:1-4:8, A Time for Everything

Chapters 4:9-6:12, The Key to Life is in Low Expectations

Chapters 7-12, Time and Chance Happen to All

We encourage you to do some homework during the week. Find a comfortable place to sit, when you can be undisturbed for 15 minutes or so. Read the text slowly, prayerfully and meditatively. Savor the words. Pray them. Put yourself into the text with your sense. What do you hear, smell, or feel? Pay attention to the words or phrases that “speak to you,” or “jump out at you.” Consider reading it aloud.

Then, do a second reading. This may happen at the same time as the first reading or at a different time or on another day. For this reading, note any questions you might have. Is the reading all one, or can you see subsections or parts? Who are the main characters? Is there a plot or story? Note additional information you need - names, monetary values, etc. – to better understand what’s going on.

Finally, think about the two questions that were provided to you from this reading. If possible, write down your answers or questions and bring them to the Sermon Study time. After worship each Sunday, we will provide 30 minutes of talking time in the Fellowship Room. During this time we can talk about the insights or questions that have arisen during your readings or during the sermon.

We are excited to dig deeper into a book from the Older Testament. We hope you will join us in discovering what these ancient writings mean to us today.

~ Eldonna Hazen

 

Posted on July 28, 2015 at 9:54 am in Featured Content.

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