During the month of August, there will be separate worship series going on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. At first glance, the scriptures that we will hear would seem to have nothing in common, but as I am pondering them, I am realizing that there are some shared universal truths that God may be speaking to us through them.
On Sunday mornings, we will be looking at some of the powerful passages in the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes. This book has been called by some the most cynical book in the Bible, as we hear the writer (called “the Teacher”) look back on what appears to be a successful life of material wealth that came from hard work, and realizing that in the end, none of that was really worth much. The most famous line that occurs frequently in the book is when the Teacher says that all of that hard work was like “chasing the wind.” The other famous passage that we will look at is in Ecclesiastes 3, where the Teacher says “for everything there is a season” and then lists all of the “seasons” of life that come at us whether we want them to or not. The book ends with no tidy conclusion, other than we are to make the most of each day and moment we are given.
On Wednesday evenings, we will be spending some quality time with the much more familiar story of the Good Samaritan, namely by taking a closer look each week at a different character in the story. And so we will be examining what might have been going on in the minds of the man who was left for dead alongside the road, the priest and the Levite who passed him by, the Good Samaritan, and then finally the innkeeper who gives the injured man a place to stay at the end of the story. It’s my hope that this approach will give us a new and deeper understanding of this multi-leveled story, and help us see how it might draw us in in different ways (because we aren’t always like the Good Samaritan!).
As to the connections between Ecclesiastes and the parable of the Good Samaritan, it is hard to argue that the Good Samaritan wasn’t taking to heart the Teacher’s message of making the most of each moment even at the expense of material gain. When he too could have passed on by, or given only temporary help to the man alongside the road, he made the most of this opportunity he was given to live life to the fullest in a way that is different than how our world tends to define what that looks like. And it is likely that as he looked back later in life at that moment, he didn’t see it as another time when he was just “chasing the wind.”
So as always, I hope you can join us on Sundays or Wednesdays (or both!) in the midst of what is probably a month of traveling and vacations to ponder these passages. I have no doubt that whatever scripture(s) you hear, you will find yourself in them somewhere. Such is the beauty of the Bible!