Take time to introduce yourselves to one another (over drinks or snacks if possible). Then ask group members to answer this question:
Over the course of this term, we’re exploring the ancient book of Ecclesiastes. Though Ecclesiastes comes from a very different culture and time to ours, it touches on some of the most profound issues of humanity.
Ask for a volunteer to read Ecclesiastes 11:1-6 to the group, praying a short prayer that, however much they’ve come to know God, they’d know him better as a result of your time together.
You can download this video to watch offline.
Suggested questions to help your discussion.
The precise meaning of the Teacher’s words in verse 1 is not entirely evident. Literally, the phrase means, “send your bread upon the waters.”
In the video, we chose the interpretation that the verse is to do with international commerce. If a person invests their ‘bread’ or ‘grain’ wisely, they may garner a return. Verse 2 then encourages readers to be ambitious in exploring different initiatives.
Another view is that the instruction is a metaphor for generosity, even if an immediate return seems unlikely. Casting bread or sowing seed on water seems futile – but no-one knows what the return may be down the road. Verses like Proverbs 11:18 and Galatians 6:9 use similar language to make this point. If this is the correct interpretation, verse 2 probably then means, ‘give to the nth degree.’
Whatever the precise emphasis of the verse, David Gibson captures how it relates to the broader theme of risk: “The idea is that, because the future is uncertain, there is risk involved in what we do, but that risk is not meant to paralyse.”
Watch this video of American pastor John Piper speaking about risk. (2 minutes)
Ask someone to pray in the light of your discussions for the group.
Risk can be defined as ‘an action that exposes you to the possibility of injury or loss.’
Take time praying in the light of your discussions. Pray that you’d have wisdom to understand what right risk looks like in the week ahead, particularly when it comes to serving your friends.
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