15 August 2021
The word for this week is wisdom. Sometimes we view wisdom as akin to intelligence, as an intellectual capacity, but the readings this week move us into a whole different experience of wisdom as something that is gained through intimate union with God in Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, and that is lived in simple but practical ways in our daily lives.
May our liturgy lead us into deeper union with Christ and with the wisdom Jesus offers.
1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14: David dies and Solomon takes over as king. Then God allows him to ask for anything he wants, and he requests wisdom to rule over God’s people well. God is pleased with his request and grants him wisdom, but also promises him wealth and fame and, if he stays faithful to God, long life.
OR Proverbs 9:1-6: Wisdom has built her house and she invites all who lack wisdom to come to her table, eat her food and drink her wine, abandon their foolishness and find understanding.
Psalm 111: A Psalm in praise of God’s works which are glorious, righteous, just, merciful, compassionate and trustworthy. God has redeemed God’s people and established an everlasting covenant with them, and wisdom is found in the fear of God and in keeping God’s laws.
OR Psalm 34:9-14: Those who honour God lack nothing, and God is honoured by those who do not speak evil or lies, who do good and seek peace.
Ephesians 5:15-20: Paul encourages the Ephesian Christians to live wisely and in the power of God’s Spirit that fills them, and to encourage one another through songs and through worship and thanksgiving to God.
John 6:51-58: Jesus continues proclaiming that he is the Bread of Life, inviting the people to eat his flesh and drink his blood as true food and drink. Those who do this will live, he promises, unlike those who died even after eating the bread in the wilderness.
For further reflections on these readings, check out this blog post.
REFLECTIONS ON THEME:
The key word this week is wisdom. Solomon is praised by God for seeking wisdom above all things, and the reading from Proverbs invites all who lack understanding to eat and drink in Wisdom’s house in order to grow wise. In the Psalms, God’s work on behalf of God’s people is praised, and wisdom is offered to those who fear the Lord, and life to those who follow God’s commands. In Paul’s letter, the Ephesians are encouraged to live wisely by being filled with God’s Spirit as they sing to one another and to God in songs of praise and as they give thanks in all things. Finally, although Jesus doesn’t speak of wisdom specifically in the passage from John, the Proverbs passage creates a link through the metaphor of eating and drinking. Those who seek life find it, Jesus says, by eating of his flesh and drinking of his blood. This shocking image speaks of absolute union with God, taking the very essence of Christ into our beings, and it results in life, the same life that comes from living wisely. Wisdom is found, then, through union with Christ and through living in the power of Christ’s Spirit that fills us as we “ingest” the Christ-nature. The strong resonances with the sacrament that come through the readings should also not be missed this week, since it is at Christ’s Table that we are invited into this mystical union with God.
CONNECTING WITH LIFE:
It can feel like wisdom is in short supply in our world today, but we need creative, surprising and courageous wisdom if we are to navigate the difficult times in which we find ourselves. The challenge is that we so often choose expediency and self-interest over wisdom. Corporate leaders are measured every quarter not because this is the way to ensure the best solutions for sustainability and corporate social responsibility, but because share-holders want to be sure that their investments are growing. Political parties oppose each other on principle not because they really believe in their positions and ideals (as evidenced by how easily they change position when it becomes expedient to do so) but for political gain and one-upmanship. Even religious communities fall prey to holding on to self-interested beliefs and practices for their own survival’s sake, rather than embracing what it best for the whole planet and its peoples. What we require is courageous and bold people who are willing to commit to the wisdom of justice, peace, compassion, sustainability, and sharing through the long term; who are strong enough to stay the course and do the work necessary to bring about the needed changes in our systems and structures. And if we want leaders like this, then every one of us must lay aside our own personal agendas, and begin voting for and supporting those who lead like this. Since our leaders are accountable to their constituents, we get the leaders we choose. When we send strong signals that we will not stand for short-term gains over long-term wisdom, we won’t support partisan point-scoring over the common good, and we won’t be part of ideologies that favour some over all, our stand for wisdom will inevitably shift our leaders and our world into wiser ways of being.
If the Lectionary is to be believed this week, wisdom is found by uniting ourselves with Christ, by “eating his flesh and drinking his blood”, by taking his presence and purpose into ourselves, and being filled with the Holy Spirit. This requires two movements in our daily living. Firstly, we need to recapture the discipline of daily spiritual practice – prayer, Scripture reading and Christlike action (For this purpose I have developed a resource to help individuals and churches to develop a meaningful and transforming daily practice linked with the Revised Common Lectionary – based on the daily readings from the Consultation on Common Texts. For more information go to https://sacredise.com/daily). Secondly, we need to allow our union with Christ to overflow into lives of gracious, generous, gentle, and humble living. It is when we commit to union with God and to living from God’s wisdom, that we are able to bring the life of Christ into our homes, our churches, our neighbourhoods and our communities. This means rejecting many of the values of our society – instant gratification and consumerism, accumulation and rampant individualism, protectionism and the avoidance of diversity. It also means learning to live in the same self-giving way that Jesus did, for when we all learn to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of others, we discover the wisdom and life that we all are able to enjoy together. The quest for wisdom, then, is not just about how we think, but about how we live, and it is only in union with God and in the strength of God’s Spirit that we can hope to embrace this life.
RESOURCES FOR WORSHIP:
We Need Wisdom
That Life Would Teach Us
To Worship And To Follow
Breathe On Me, Breath Of God
Come, Holy Ghost, Our Hearts Inspire
Praise To The Lord, The Almighty, The King Of Creation
Lead Us, Heavenly Father Lead Us
Son Of God
Breathe (Link to YouTube video)
In Love For Me (Link to YouTube video)
All Who Are Thirsty (Link to YouTube video)
A Liturgy for the Sacrament
A Liturgy for Communion