Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do. Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom. Ecclesiastes 9, verses 7 – 10.
Happy Halloween, all. Today, go eat with gladness, drink with a joyful heart, and be clothed in white even if you are clothed in some other kind of costume. Enjoy life with your wife (or your husband) all your days because this is what you’re given. Tomorrow, return to your job and whatever task is in front of you, do it well. Do these things because, when you’re dead, you’re dead…unless you’re Jason, or Michael Myers, or Freddie Krueger, or Cher on your next farewell tour. On Halloween, remember: those scary people never die.
As an aside, though, while you’re hopefully enjoying handing out candy (or trick or treating), consider those who are hurting today. Millions of people in the US are suffering today after the hurricane that devastated the East Coast yesterday. If you are moved, consider donating. Contact the Red Cross. Or, if you would like your donation to go to something more direct, consider donating to Pastor Matt Popovits at Our Savior Lutheran in New York. He is collecting donations for direct relief at http://mightykingdomlight.wordpress.com/projects-of-light/. Funds will go directly to people there who need them via a reputable source with no dog in the hunt other than serving people through God’s hands.
But this isn’t all a plug for your pocketbook. The author, King Solomon, the richest man in antiquity, wrote these verses in what, to me, seems like a particularly cynical mood. In fact, most of these last two chapters of Ecclesiastes seem pretty cynical. Go ahead and enjoy life now because you’re going to die. This really is as good as it gets. Solomon realized we need more than just funds, charity, or holidays. Of course, as we’ve talked before, the entire book is an exposition of what life is like absent God.
Absent God looks a whole lot like a suburban Halloween. I’m not big on Halloween. I gave up trick or treating when I was eleven, and I really don’t like the sinister focus of the holiday; this is ground I think we’ve covered before. But think about it: the purpose of the day is to scare the heebie jeebies out of people, especially little kids. We celebrate death, macabre, horror, crime, madness and witchcraft. What’s more, we encourage the youngest of us to model this, making monsters, ghouls and witches seem cute and cuddly. If we could have the holiday without all the scary subterfuge, I think I’d be ok with it. As it is, I don’t care for the focus.
Here in the suburbs, where evil dresses in complacency, it’s easy to get a picture of what life without God can be like. It’s teflon-coated kindness wrapped up in double-mortgaged brickwork and carried around in a Coach purse. Enjoy it, folks, this is as good as it gets. Oh, and if you don’t like the suburbs, don’t be getting all proud because you know darn well that it’s no better off in the cities, where drive by shootings, hookers, gangs and worse don’t even bother to hide. Ditto out in the country, where there’s plenty of trouble to be had as well.
Ah, Dave, you’re turning into an old fart. Maybe, but I’m not there yet.
I’m not there because I’m thankful for days like today and for verses like these. They give me hope in knowing that life doesn’t need to be this way. We were made for better and better is what’s in store. In the mean time, there are days for fun, days for working, days for enjoying the fruits of our labors, and days for fellowship with each other. More than that, there are days for serving, which is why we were put here in the first place. That’s why I include today the link to help others. On days like today, evil doesn’t hide. This week it came in the form of a monster storm that has devastated lives. Won’t you please consider giving? I will.
And if you swing by my house in the evil north Texas suburbs tonight, you’ll find my wife and I sitting on our front patio. We don’t have a front porch: we have a patio that I built six years ago to cover a bare spot between a pear tree and our house. We will be sitting outside around a fire pit, holding a big bowl of candy. We might also be drinking wine, so if you come by, please feel free to sit down and let me pour you a glass. Have a bite of candy, or maybe some caramel corn (my wife has a great recipe). Together, let’s beat back a little bit of the darkness behind the day. We will eat, drink and enjoy life because, this side of heaven, the fellowship between us is as good as it gets. When we welcome God into that fellowship, there are no tricks or treats. There is Him, and His light outshines anything else we could ever try to conjure.