Based on: Proverbs 8: 1-4; 22-31 and 32-36 “Wisdom’s Part in Creation” and “Instructions for Wisdom’s Children”
Opening Prayer: God of the sunshine, God of the rain, God of the good green earth, and the bright blue sky of a new day, may we know your immanent and transcendent presence as we reflect on your word for us this day, amen.
For some of us here, this morning’s readings from the eighth chapter of the book of Proverbs might be new and unfamiliar.
In fact, that would not be surprising as these particular readings from the Wisdom texts are not often emphasized in the lectionary rotation.
More typically, this morning’s readings would be offered on what we know as Trinity Sunday and they would springboard to other readings focusing on Jesus as the embodiment of God’s wisdom as in the prologue to John’s gospel.
As well, this morning’s readings would most often accompany a reading from the book of Psalms and possibly one of Paul’s letter written to the Romans.
Sometimes these verses from Proverbs would be paired with those from the sixteenth chapter of John’s gospel (verses 12-16). The chapter where Jesus promises to send an advocate, the Spirit of Truth, to guide his beloved followers struggling in the aftermath of his death on the cross.
But for today, particular summer Sunday in July, we have the chance to simply to soak up the words and images of delight and creativity offered for their own hearing and for our listening enjoyment.
I, for one, love how the the images evoked in this ancient poetry speaks to the grand timelessness of God’s creative endeavours. Creative endeavours culminating in the bringing forth, the birthing we might say, of, among other things, God’s feminine counterpart, God’s companion, or some scholars would name her-‘Lady Wisdom’ or ‘Madam Insight’ (see Eugene Peterson, The Message, The Bible in Contemporary Language).
Whatever motivated the composition of the book of Proverbs, in my mind’s eye I see a vision of God and Lady Wisdom actively and energetically engaged in their creative endeavours. Together, they with the Holy Spirit, fine tune and refine the divine architectural project we know as the universe, the cosmos; the place where we find ourselves cradled as inhabitants of God’s good earth.
Further to that, I really like how the reading reminds us that together, God and Lady Wisdom find, not only delight in their shared creative endeavor, but also take delight in the rich diversity of humanity-that is to say, the reading assures us that God, Creator and God’s Companion, Wisdom, take great delight in ‘us’.
What a fine message for us as we worship together on a summer Sunday in July!
How wonderful it is that the reading tells us-God and God’s feminine counterpart, God’s companion, delights in us the same way as a mother takes great delight in a beloved child or a master teacher takes great pride in a beloved student!
But my absolutely most favourite part of the reading from the eighth chapter of the book of Proverbs is found in Madam Insight’s cautionary note close to its end: “Happy are those who keep ‘Wisdom’s ways. Happy are those who listen to ‘Wisdom’, who watch for it daily.
For whoever finds ‘Wisdom’, finds life. But those who miss ‘Wisdom’ injure themselves.
That is to say, ‘Those who miss ‘Wisdom’ injure, not only themselves but also, injure the whole of God’s good Creation.
These readings were first composed for a faithful community living in exile some 600 years before Jesus walked the earth, but they have much to offer us as well in these days of environmental degradation. Fooling ourselves for far too long we have lulled ourselves into ignoring the shocking implications of climate change and global warming. For the sake of our own lives and for the lives of those to come after us, I find myself increasingly dismayed at what is happening here and now.
This morning’s readings brings me to a story of hope based on a recent conversation I had a couple of days ago with a dermatologist for consultation about a small lesion I have on my cheekbone.
What began as a diagnostic consultation quickly turned into an education session on how to protect myself from any further skin problems.
Following on from there came a powerfully moving conversation about how this fine gentleman and his wife, both committed Christians, have eagerly taken their places in the great cleanup campaign of the cosmos.
Refusing to view themselves as unaccountable for their actions dependent on a clockmaker kind of God to take care of the mess in which Creation and its creatures finds itself, they are consistently intentional and faithful about their lifestyle choices.
Indeed, it seemed to me from this man’s testimony that he and his family had surely paid heed to Lady Wisdom’s invitation to keep Wisdom’s ways and to take their part in the mending of Creation.
“Does not wisdom call, and does not understanding raise her voice?
On the heights beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand; beside the gates at the front of the town she cries out:
‘To you, O people, I call and my call is that all may live!”
In the name of the Triune God: Father, Mother, Source of Life Giving Wisdom, Comforter, Friend, and Holy Spirit, I pray it may be so.