Eternity in Our Minds
“It is an unhappy business that God has given to human beings to be busy with. All is vanity and a chasing after wind.”
Here we are this week getting ready to welcome our Bishop Diane among us to celebrate a unique event in the 150-year history of COS – the reception of Confirmation by 26 adults. We’ve confirmed that many children in our heyday (-45 years), but never so many adults.
Yet our Sunday scripture is taking a different tack—telling us that “all is vanity and chasing after the wind.” Rather than having a philosophy of progress, which is part of the American psyche, the philosophy of the author of Ecclesiastes (Sunday’s first reading) seems cynical, even despairing. Round and round goes human life. What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun L
But wait, there is something underneath this author’s words, something that directly applies to Confirmation—confirming one’s stance of faith. That something, as the author sees it, is that God has put eternity in our minds. We have a built-in quest to excel, to learn, to know the present and future, to have eternity in our hearts, but we struggle unceasingly to find the things that the heart longs for. This is a week in which the Sunday readings denounce things: all human endeavor in the first reading; materialism is denounced in Luke’s Gospel; and we are urged to "put to death" a lot of things in Colossians.
We are preparing to celebrate adult Confirmation—a joyous occasion, but the Scriptures are on a tear, denouncing everything. Then it occurs to me: Don’t we sometimes just need to step back, to consider this kind of word? It can clear the mental decks; help lead toward reorientation of life; make us slow down long enough to ask ourselves upon what foundation we are building our life anyway.
In that regard, I am glad for Ecclesiastes, chapters 1 and 2. They help put my own quests in perspective. They help orient all of us for the celebration of our commitments in faith.
On behalf of the 26 whose current and past Confirmations we celebrate, I am most grateful that God has put eternity in our minds.