NYC | There is no doubt that New York is a great city. John Updike wrote, “The true New Yorker secretly believes that people living anywhere else have to be, in some sense, kidding”, and John Lennon said, “If I’d live in Roman times, I’d have lived in Rome. Where else? Today America is the Roman Empire and New York is Rome itself.” Yet, why is this so? What makes New York so great? It’s definitely not the cramped living spaces, high cost of living or horrid subway smells. It’s also not the relaxed lifestyle or pleasant weather. So why do 45% of Americans under 35 want to live here  and 47 million people worldwide annually want to visit ? It’s the shopping, eating, drama, nightlife and entertainment. After all, where else can you get gourmet cuisine from food trucks parked outside the opera house? Yet, no matter what this city offers – Wall Street, Per Se, Broadway, The Metropolitan Club, Saks, Columbia, 30 Rock – every New Yorker eventually asks, “Is this it? Is life nothing more than a series of cool and exclusive events?”
Pleasure | And thus we turn to Ecclesiastes. As Mark Dever has written, “If the book of Proverbs is about wisdom for people who want success, the book of Ecclesiastes offers wisdom for people who have success. Particularly, it is for individuals who have gotten what they wanted out of life, or at least what they thought they had wanted, and then have found it wanting” . Solomon – on par with the most wealthy and powerful New Yorkers – passionately pursued pleasure: “Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure” . Yet, in his seeking, he found that, “all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun” . As Jesus later asked, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” .
Prayer | Lord, We confess that there is nothing to be gained under the sun. All of our pleasure-seeking in events and clothes and food and shows and power is vanity if we approach them as the means by which to get joy. Rather, you are the joy of our salvation and the end of our seeking. And, in Christ, we have riches forevermore – riches that last beyond the grave because you have conquered death. Therefore, satisfy us in you and you alone. Amen.