August 19, 2018

You may have noticed the common thread going through our readings is the encouragement to act with wisdom. If we look hard enough, we can find many ideas about what wisdom is. Let me start with three short sayings.

A British journalist named Miles Kington once said, “Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.”

W.C. Fields said, "Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people.”

Milton Berle once quipped, “You can lead a man to Congress, but you can't make him think.”

I am not sure any of those help that much. How might you define wisdom? You probably wouldn’t say the smartest person in the room is the wisest. The most highly educated person is not always the wisest either.

We get some good definitions of wisdom from Scripture today. It all starts with the Book of Proverbs. The entire book provides encouragement to us that we acquire wisdom and avoid folly. My study Bible says that wisdom is a word that is rich in nuance, and that throughout the book of Proverbs wisdom is referred to with terms such as insight, understanding, advice, prudence, discretion discipline and good sense. The book of Proverbs contains many sayings, advice to the unwise such as “A soft answer turns away wrath” which is found in Proverbs 15:1. 

A French writer named Nicolas Chamfort wrote, “There are more fools than wise men, and even in a wise man there is more folly than wisdom.”

A newspaper columnist named Doug Larsen wrote, “Wisdom is the quality that keeps you from getting into situations where you need it.”

Perhaps we should read the entire book of Proverbs for wisdom is a fleeting virtue.  In today’s passage, Wisdom is referred to as a woman. The connections to the Gospel are pretty clear. Woman wisdom invites others to enter her house “to eat of my bread and to drink of the wine I have mixed”. While dining in her abode, having bread and wine, those who come will be given words of wisdom. It connects so well with what Jesus said many years later. In the bread and wine given by Jesus, we receive wisdom and with that gift Jesus also offers us everlasting life.

Wisdom is a theme in the second reading as well. Paul exhorted his flock to live as wise people, to make the most of their time. Things haven’t changed much in that regard. The world is a difficult and dangerous place. There are many threats to our existence and many temptations. Wisdom is our way of keeping on the straight and narrow path. In the entire passage, Paul wanted his followers to live as children of the light. Before they began to follow Jesus, they lived in darkness. Now, they have received the wisdom that came from Jesus and the light that they have entered into is good and true.

Paul believed the wisdom of Jesus would change their lives. Divine wisdom brought them closer to God and Paul said they would be so excited that they became filled with the Holy Spirit and would sing hymns and psalms. In our Bible study on Wednesday, several people were moved by this idea and remembered the songs of their childhood. I am sure some of you remember those songs as well. Did you feel the Holy spirit moving in you? Were you thankful for adults who taught you songs of joy? Let’s take just a minute and sing together two songs from childhood. Let’s start with this little light of mine, a song that fits with the call to live in the light.  

This little light of mine

I’m gonna let it shine.

This little light of mine

I’m gonna let it shine

This little light of mine

I’m gonna let it shine

Let it shine, let it shine let it shine.

 

And how about the song Jesus loves the little children

 

Jesus loves the little children

All the children of the world

Red and yellow, black and white

They are precious in His sight

Jesus loves the little children of the world

 

Jesus cares for all the children

All the children of the world

Red and yellow, black and white

They are precious in His sight

Jesus cares for the children of the world

 

Jesus came to save the children

All the children of the world

Red and yellow, black and white

They're all precious in His sight

Jesus came to save the children of the world.

I hope that singing those songs helps you to feel the power of the Holy Spirit within you and that in wisdom you are excited to praise God. Jesus wanted us to live in a community where the wisdom of God is something we seek together and something we share with each other.  I think Paul wanted us to sing in our hearts as well. Our singing can be “literal singing which gives God praise, and the kind of heart attitude for which “singing” is a metaphor (Understanding the Sunday Scriptures)”. We are thankful for wisdom and we are thankful for the gift Jesus gave us. Through his sacrifice we have salvation. Our hearts are alive with joy.

This Gospel reading must have been difficult for the Jewish people to hear. Jesus said, “the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” How can Jesus offer us his flesh to eat, they asked. If I had been there, I would have asked the same question. It is through our reflection, through our looking back and knowing that Jesus died for us that we better understand. His death and resurrection was the gift of life for us. His blood was also given and for that we are thankful.   Because of his sacrifice, we are redeemed, we are lifted up out of our sin and we have the opportunity to live a life of joy. It is through the teachings of so many who come before us and through our faith that we come to understand that Jesus is present in the bread and wine which we consume each Sunday. Jesus is not changed by giving up his flesh and blood. Rather we are changed. It is a mystery. But more important it is a gift. It is another example of the mercy of God given to each of us.  Our communal worship is a time to praise God and to reverence the Lord. As Jesus told us, if we follow, we will be given wisdom. The wisdom we receive then helps us to come into union with God. That union helps us to live our lives in the way that God intended. As the prior readings suggest, this union with God is what keeps us from sin and helps us to dedicate our souls to God.

I have two more sayings from unknown sources to share. 

“Going to church does not make you a Christian anymore than going to McDonald’s makes you a hamburger. Let us join in our worship together and praise God for all that God has done for us.”

“A coincidence is when God performs a miracle, and decides to remain anonymous.” I believe that God is at work in our lives and often performing miracles. However we may not think of them as miracles.

Can you remember the last time you were really hungry or thirsty? I know, it doesn’t often happen to most of us. Perhaps, you skipped a meal trying to loose weight or maybe you were on a trip and couldn’t get to a place to eat. I remember a trip we took to Yellowstone National Park. I got so thirsty that I couldn’t stop drinking water. When we are hungry or thirsty, all we can think about is food or water. That is what our readings refer to today. We are called by Jesus to wish with all of our souls that we can be with him, that Jesus will give us the food we need. We wish that Jesus will help us to have the wisdom to deal with all that life has to offer. We pray that Jesus will nourish us in a way that all we want to do is follow him. If we can focus on Jesus then we know that all of the cravings of our human bodies such as drinking alcohol are just ways to take our minds off of what we really need. This week, let us take the bread and the wine that Jesus offers to us and allow ourselves to grow closer to Jesus, living in his love and knowing it to be the best place we can be. Amen.

Last modified on Wednesday, 12 September 2018 18:47

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  • Psalm 119:143
    “Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands give me delight.”