Life under the sun — the book of Ecclesiastes

The book of Ecclesiastes is scarcely scarcely straightforward. It is at the very least enigmatic. Beyond this, some find it anti-religious, many find it pessimistic, and most would find it quite self-contradictory.

In order to discover the best ‘the Teacher’ has to say to us today, we will be using his reflections on ‘life under the sun’ as a foil through March and April 2019 to engage with the ministry of Jesus, especially as we follow him through Lent on his path to the cross.

As usual, the sermons will be available online after each Sunday. It will be fine just to come to church and hear the sermons each week but if you’d like to be stretched a bit further in your understanding of Ecclesiastes, some of the following might help, among the many, many resources an online bookstore can provide:


  • Jacques Ellul, ‘Reason for Being’ — This is a very readable extended meditation on the book by a well-known commentator on the ‘condition’ of the modern world
  • R.N. Whybray’s ‘Ecclesiates’ is a brief thematic commentary and less daunting than fuller expositions
  • A more substantial commentary but still quite accessible is William Brown’s ‘Ecclesiastes’ in the Interpretation series
  • A little more in-depth is the commentary of Julie Ann Dungan in the Abingdon Old Testament series
  • [Any one of the above four would probably be enough!]
  • Robert K Johnston’s ‘Useless Beauty: Ecclesiastes through the lens of Contemporary Film’ might interest movie enthusiasts!


The focus texts from Ecclesiastes for each Sunday will appear in the weekly MtE news posts on the website homepage, but the Sundays over which the series will unfold are as follows :

February 24

[March 3 — Guest preacher, off series]

March 6 (Ash Wednesday)

[March 10 — Guest preacher, off series]

March 17 (Lent 2)

March 24 (Lent 3)

March 31 (Lent 4)

April 7 (Lent 5)

April 14 (Hymns and readings service, off series)

April 18 (Maundy Thursday)

April 19 (Good Friday)

April 21 (Easter Day — series conclusion)