Ecclesiastes 5.1-9: "Preach the gospel. If necessary, use words."

When it comes to the meaningless of religion, we pastors can exposit quite eloquently about the evils of false religion. How many 'good Christians' need to be found guilty of abuse before we listen to survivors and advocate for accountability? How long must the poor and oppressed cry out for justice? How often do we need to give up sweets for Lent before we long less for weight-loss and more for drawing nearer to God? 

These angry questions are also filled with lament, lament on account of the harm that false religion has done to individuals and society. I know too many stories of people who have turned away from God because they had been taught a picture of God that could not relate to their lived experience. I want to argue with these people that their picture is false. I want to yell at the people who taught them a limited view of God. I want to force feed all of them Ecclesiastes (and the Old Testament prophets) and demand that they find a place in their belief system for questions and uncertainty and justice. 

Then I took my anger and lament to Ecclesiastes 5 and started pondering how this text might shape our prayer of the people. The Spirit, as the Spirit often does, graciously convicted me through the words written there. For as much Ecclesiastes 5 focuses on how religion has been abused, the focus is more on how words are abused. 

The text says:
May your words be few. 
Do not be rash with your words.
It is better that you not make a vow.
Many words are meaningless.

How do these words relate to my anger and lament? I don't know. I believe that there is a good and fitting place for anger and lament. Yet, at what point might my words become as unhelpful as the false religion that I'm yelling about?

As I wondered what actually is true religion, I heard an invitation to silence, an invitation 'to draw near to listen,' as Ecclesiastes 5:1 puts it.  And I was reminded of the words that we often attribute to St. Francis, 'Preach the gospel. If necessary, use words.' 

This evening at Wine Before Breakfast, join us as we ponder further the truth of Ecclesiastes.

This week at Wine Before Breakfast... After Dinner...

Deb Whalen-Blaize will be playing live throughout,
Heather Beamish is bringing us a word from Ecclesiastes 5,
Jess Watts will read our scripture,
Nico Foslett is reading the land acknowledgment
Jesse Frohlich will act as the Voice of the People, 
Aileen and Tim are reading the prayers (that Deb and I had the honour of writing). 

I hope to see you this evening at 7:22pm.

In hope,
Brenda Kronemeijer-Heyink
CRC Chaplain at the University of Toronto

CRC Campus Ministry is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Wine Before Breakfast... After Dinner
Time: February 9, 2021 07:22 PM America/Toronto
Contact to get the zoom link.  
Community Announcements

1. Sign-Up Sheet
We invite you to click on this link and sign up for writing a prayer litany, acting as the voice of the people, reading our scripture or reading the land acknowledgement and dismissal. If you have any questions about these rolls, please email Aileen!

2. Webinar: The History of the Black Church in Canada - Feb 24, 2021
Hosted by the Black Anglicans of Canada (Rev. Jacqueline Daley is co-chair). 

3. Resources for Lent: Fast for the Earth
A helpful resource and a manageable fast for guidance on faithful living in the face of the climate crisis. You can download it here: 

4. Meeting God in the Wilderness
A Lenten Bible Study with Sylvia Keesmaat, Wednesday evenings Feb 24 - Mar 31; $10 per session or $50 for entire course. Contact to register or for more information.

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