Ministry Updates for Tuesday, May 5th, 2020

Scripture for Reflection – Ecclesiastes 7:1 (NRSV)

A good name is better than precious ointment,
    and the day of death, than the day of birth.

Reflection – A Good Name

Early on in our quarantine, FUMC member Dan Lee suggested, in our daily Faith Connection, reading Proverbs, Ecclesiastes or Psalms in order that we might ‘Be still and know that I am God’. I am often slow to follow even good suggestions, but I usually get there. These books are a treasure trove, and I am particularly fond of Ecclesiastes.

Sometimes in The Book of Ecclesiastes or in Proverbs, passages are somewhat randomly listed. Other times, they are put together to play off each other. A seminary professor in a previous congregation pointed out how these two sayings play off each other. A good name takes time to build, so as we near death, the benefit of this good name grows stronger.

In the time prior to Jesus, we are told, belief in the afterlife was not common. But even though Ecclesiastes was written before Jesus, scholars believe that just maybe Ecclesiastes was hinting at it. Repetitive uses of the phrase ‘under the sun’ imply things are different ‘above the sun’. Could the phrase mean heaven, a heaven for people, and not just God?

This passage could also imply belief in ‘heaven’. A good name is a good thing, but we would prefer to capitalize on it in this life, right? If our good name peaks at death, what good is that to us? Well, maybe our good name has even more value in death if, of course, there is a heaven.

Jesus challenged us to skip storing up treasures in this life, where moths, rust and thieves can wreak havoc, but rather to store up treasures in heaven. In other words, do the right thing, and let go of whether we get payoffs in this life or not. If we follow in the footsteps of Jesus, accept God as our loving ‘Father’ or parent, and prepare to suffer for doing what is good, right and truthful, then we will have a ‘good name’ with God.

It is hard for me to accept ‘the day of my death will be better than the day of my birth’. I guess it is because I believe God wants me here right now. However, it is even harder to accept the idea of this life being better than heaven.

This passage is more of a promise than a comparison. Life moves forward. God is at work in transforming us. God is leading us heavenward every day. And as we get closer, the sights, the aromas, the excitement, and our relationships will increase and deepen. Thank God. Literally.


God of Grace, God of eternal life, we are thankful for each unfolding day and the unfolding chapters of our lives, which allow us to experience the depth and goodness of your love. Lead us to love and serve, building a good name with first with you, and then with our community. May we faithfully follow, embracing each new day as your promise to us. Amen