Devotional: February 18, 2021
Seize life! Eat bread with gusto,
Drink wine with a robust heart.
Oh yes—God takes pleasure in your pleasure!
Dress festively every morning.
Don’t skimp on colors and scarves.
Relish life with the spouse you love
Each and every day of your precarious life.
Each day is God’s gift.
Ecclesiastes 9: 7-9 The Message
The opening line in this passage from Ecclesiastes reminds me of the song, “To Life, L’chaim” from Fiddler on the Roof. I know the musical well, having played the part of the old butcher Lazar Wolf in a production back when I was a student at Wenatchee High School. The song is boisterous, joyful, and a celebration of life, in spite of the misery of those who sang it: persecuted Jews in Russia. Here are some of the lyrics from that song…
To life, l'chaim! L'chaim, l'chaim, to life! A gift we seldom are wise enough Ever to prize enough, Drink l'chaim, to life! God would like us to be joyful Even though our hearts lie panting on the floor; How much more can we be joyful, When there's really something To be joyful for.
In the musical, Tevye and his family have lost almost everything. Yet, there is still humor and rejoicing. They are still thankful for what they do have, and they still honor their faith. The Christian community has now entered the season of Lent. Lent is a time of reflection and preparation, as we look forward to the celebration of Easter. The fragility of life, and the ability to celebrate it even when things are not good, is what this passage is encouraging us to do. This theme is reflected in these verses from the writer of Ecclesiastes.
Some people honor Lent by denying themself something that they truly enjoy, or take pleasure in. For many of us, this last year has felt like Lent. Our ability to enjoy and take pleasure in life was taken away from us without it being our choice. So much of what we counted upon has been lost. We took for granted blessings like being with family and friends, worshipping in a church, children going to school, and even a simple meal in a restaurant.
Here, God’s word reminds us that life is precious. In spite of its struggles and complexities and challenges, life remains a blessing. The character Tevye realized this truth. He sought to live life to the fullest, even in such dire circumstances. May we do the same, celebrating life even when life does not feel wonderful. To do so is not to deny God, as some might believe, but rather to celebrate His Lordship over every aspect of our lives.
It is not an accident that one of our two sacraments involves eating bread, and drinking wine. Nor is it a coincidence that the prayer Jesus taught his disciples-the Lord’s prayer- includes a simple petition asking God to provide us with “daily bread.” I believe God wants us to find a way to celebrate life with color, with food, with love, and with enthusiasm, even when our spirits are downtrodden.
When our true spirit embraces the joy which the Lord with which the Lord wants us to celebrate, the sense of doom and gloom can be lifted. It is not wrong to celebrate God’s blessings found in His creation. When we do so, we will begin to see things from a more thankful perspective. We glimpse God’s hands in the little details in our lives.
Therefore, as we begin to move into this season of Lent, do not deny yourself of the pleasure of living life with enthusiasm. The Latin words “Carpe diem” are the expression of how we should live our lives….seize the day. “God takes pleasure in your pleasure!” Hallelujah! and Amen.
Lord, I come to You knowing that You want me to find joy in You. Help me to see even the littlest things as a blessing from You. Help me when my heart is heavy, when I struggle, and I am pained and grieving what I have lost. Hold me close. Your embrace helps me as I take a deep breath, beginning to see the blessings You have in store for me. Lead me back to finding the pleasures in life You give to me.
Humbly I pray this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen