Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Words on wisdom

I am determined to have a better Sunday. No matter what. I'm very happy to have Andre back and his voice and song. Steven was there practicing when I arrived. Willa was back. And Don. A new visitor from the neighborhood. And I am feeling calm, ready to welcome and appreciate who is  there. 
We begin with 1 Kings 2: 10-12, 3: 3-14, the end of David and beginning of Solomon. Then Ephesians 5: 15-20. And finally John 6: 51-58, part of a seemingly endless series of variations on the Bread of Life. With Psalm 111 in the middle. 

I ask if anyone has picked up a theme here. That with the exception of John, what’s in front of us this morning is wisdom...What is it? But more importantly, who has been wise in our lives? And I’m struck by the number who think first of their mothers. And how often old women seem to embody wisdom. And how fitting that is, given the Greek word for wisdom is Sophia. And is feminine. 

Solomon could ask for what does he ask for? (I love his self-description: I do not know how to go out or come in...) he asks for understanding mind to govern your people.....the ability to discern good from evil... would that our presidential candidates would pray for that.

And Andre breaks in and says, Do you not believe your President prays for that? I stop and think for a minute. I believe he does, Andre. I believe he does.  He may not always do it once he knows it, but I d believe he wants to discern good from evil. 

OK. Time for a side bar discussion about Presbyterians. Our name comes from presbyteros, the Greek word for elder. (Like the word for old eyes, presbyopia...) We are governed not by bishops or priests but by and women lifted up by their fellow members to be  wise and discerning....NOT pledged to a particular position on anything. By our tradition, here is how we are to make difficult decisions on issues:
  1. What does the Bible say about it?
  2. What does the tradition, including other traditions, say about it?
  3. What do the best sources secular, academic, scientific have to say about it
  4. And then we STUDY...and PRAY for the guidance of the Holy Spirit and decide where we are to be
  5. Then fight with everything you’ve got for your issue
  6. And then go to bed with the thought you could be wrong

This comes directly out of our theology. That none of us knows the full mind of God. That all of us are fallible. That only with all of us can we begin to  approach the right decision. And then not with compete certainty. 

And we claim, and not unfairly, that our way of governance had significant impact on the form of government chosen by our newly born country. We have not actually a democracy, but a republican, where  representatives are selected to be wise and discerning, not ideologues. In a computer age, we could do decision making by computer. Plebiscites. But that wasn’t the idea. It was supposed to be you could disagree and still not break relationship. Because of struggling together. Not anymore. 

OK....because Solomon asks for wisdom, he wind sup getting the rest, too. Doesn’t necessarily wok out that way, but beginning with wisdom the rest is more likely to follow. 

Psalm 111 tells us, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom... now this is not fear
like in Batman, the Dark Knight Rises, though there is a good point there..Bruce Wayne kept tying to climb out of the pit but could not. The wise old men told him he no longer feared losing his life, only when he wanted to love enough to fear again would that push him to climb out of the pit. 9e could have an extended discussion on that issue, but won’t...)

No what the Bible refers to is not FEAR, but AWE...that is acceptance of mystery, of the something beyond us...of our creaturely nature, place in the universe....

Ephesians adds:
make the most of the time because the days are evil...
While driving back form Philadelphia yesterday, I heard an interview on NPR. Xavier Le Pichon, the man who explains tectonic plates to us. He recalled when he was seven and under Nazi occupation, his mother would  say to him, I don’t care what might happen tomorrow, you’re doing your lessons today. And that very attitude of not giving in to time, of using what they had,  may have helped them survive.  I think it is not so much THE time as it is  THIS time...

(And that it’s better to be filled with the Spirit than Spirits (interesting the word they come up with to describe what alcohol is, no?)

As for eating and drinking Jesus, it’s not like what happens in True Blood, the vampire series with its vampire religion,  not that but taking him in, seeking a oneness with face questions and be willing to ask, What Would Jesus Do? Yes really that.

So to summarize:
  • The source of wisdom is fear (awe) of God...respectful of the mystery
  • We seeking oneness with Jesus so that we ask the right questions
  • Seek wisdom, discernment....the rest will follow
  • We are called upon to make  the most of the time, this time...OUR time
  • evil or not, these are OUR days, let us live them 

Andre sings I want Jesus t walk with me acapella. And we sing Lead me,guide me to finish. 

We linger with each other awhile. Steve and I stand on the steps. He was happy to learn the back story on Presbyterian decision making process.  I’m thinking that it’s the willingness to be wrong opens us up to the willingness to take risks. Which is the only way we can do this....

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