Hebel Happens: A Sermon on September 11, 2022

This sermon was delivered at the Well House Church in Nashville, TN. The sermon begins at about 44 minutes.

Hebel happens.

9-11 happened.

Hebel is the word the preacher in Ecclesiastes uses thirty-seven times to describe a world soaked in death.

Life is brief, a vapor. It is absurd and an enigma. It is unfathomable; we can’t make sense of the world as it now exists.

Stuff happens; and it is hebel—enigmatic, transitory, and futile.

COVID-19 happens. Job losses happen. Violence happens. Abuse happens. Cancer happens. Death happens. It is hebel.

How do we respond to hebel?

We lament, question, and protest.

We need to sit there for a time. We should neither escape lament nor rush it. Let it happen. It is a healthy response to hebel.

How do we respond to hebel? We lament. But that is not all.

We open our eyes to see the beauty in the world. We embrace the goodness of creation and its joys.

Even the preacher said, “Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart . . . Let not oil be lacking on your head. Enjoy life with the [spouse] whom you love.”

Without diminishing the pain of our lament, we affirm the goodness of creation: the joy of food, wine, companionship, vocation, children, and life.

There is hebel, and there is good. Something is wrong with this world, and there is also something good about it.

Today, we lament the evil, and affirm the good.

We lament 9-11, and we also give thanks for the good in our lives.

We lament the pandemic, and we also gratefully enjoy family, food, friends, and faith.

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