In the readings for this Sunday, the author of Ecclesiastes asks: What do mortals gain from their toil under the sun? All is vanity (Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12–14; 2:18–23). The psalmist sings: The gift of life has no price; the great and the lowly will all perish (Psalm 49:1–12). The apostle Paul writes: If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above (Colossians 3:1–11). In Luke, Jesus says: Be on guard against greed; life does not come from your possessions (Luke 12:13–21).
Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12–14; 2:18–23
2 Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher,
vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
12 I, the Teacher, when king over Israel in Jerusalem, 13 applied my mind to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven; it is an unhappy business that God has given to human beings to be busy with. 14 I saw all the deeds that are done under the sun; and see, all is vanity and a chasing after wind.
18 I hated all my toil in which I had toiled under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to those who come after me 19 —and who knows whether they will be wise or foolish? Yet they will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. 20 So I turned and gave my heart up to despair concerning all the toil of my labors under the sun, 21 because sometimes one who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave all to be enjoyed by another who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. 22 What do mortals get from all the toil and strain with which they toil under the sun? 23 For all their days are full of pain, and their work is a vexation; even at night their minds do not rest. This also is vanity.
1 Hear this, all you peoples;
give ear, all inhabitants of the world,
2 both low and high,
rich and poor together.
3 My mouth shall speak wisdom;
the meditation of my heart shall be understanding.
4 I will incline my ear to a proverb;
I will solve my riddle to the music of the harp.
5 Why should I fear in times of trouble,
when the iniquity of my persecutors surrounds me,
6 those who trust in their wealth
and boast of the abundance of their riches?
7 Truly, no ransom avails for one’s life,
there is no price one can give to God for it.
8 For the ransom of life is costly,
and can never suffice,
9 that one should live on forever
and never see the grave.
10 When we look at the wise, they die;
fool and dolt perish together
and leave their wealth to others.
11 Their graves are their homes forever,
their dwelling places to all generations,
though they named lands their own.
12 Mortals cannot abide in their pomp;
they are like the animals that perish.
1 So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, 3 for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.
5 Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. 7 These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life. 8 But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices 10 and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. 11 In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!
13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” 14 But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” 16 Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. 17 And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ 18 Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ 20 But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”
Call to Worship
If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above,
where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth,
for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.
Let us worship the Lord with our hearts and minds fixed on things that are above.
Call to Confession
Based on Colossians 3:5
By God’s grace, let us confess our sins,
seeking to put to death all that is earthly.
Prayer of Confession
Based on Luke 12:13-21; Psalm 49:1-12; Ecclesiastes 2:18-23
help us to be on your guard
against all kinds of greed.
Forgive us for putting our trust
in wealth and boasting of our riches
for our lives do not consist
in the abundance of possessions.
Forgive us for storing up treasures for ourselves,
but not being generous toward you.
By your grace help us to see the vanity in selfish labor
for in the end, we will leave our possessions with others. Amen.
Assurance of Forgiveness
Based on Colossians 3:3, 10
Hear the good news of the gospel:
You have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
You have been clothed with the new self,
which is being renewed through your relationship with your Creator.
Affirmation of Faith
Based on Colossians 3:5-11
Brothers and sisters, what do we believe concerning evil desires?
We believe we are to put to death whatever is earthly:
fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry).
We believe that on account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient;
and these are the ways we also once followed, when we were living that life.
We believe that we must get rid of all such things—
anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from our mouths.
We believe we are not lie to one another,
seeing that we have stripped off the old self with its practices
and have clothed ourselves with the new self,
which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator.
We believe that In our renewal there is no longer
Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised,
barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!