address delivered in Warragul Uniting Church, by the Rev Rosalind Terry
Sunday, 14 September 2003
“Where can we find wisdom?” Part One
We sang four times “God has spoken to his people,
and his words are words of wisdom, hallelujah!”
I wonder how God has spoken to each of us?
I’d like us to think silently for a few moments
about how God has spoken to us.
Which people have you known who have been voices of
wisdom for you?
How did you sense that these people were wise?
What did you do with the wisdom they shared with you?
Are there people who would consider you wise?
what way does this knowledge affect your relationship with them?
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If you were a great artist, with paints or musical instrument or pen, I wonder how you would portray wisdom?
is one of the ways in which the Bible portrays wisdom:
(Bible reading) Proverbs
thing I find surprising about that picture of wisdom is not so much that she is
portrayed as a woman, probably a young and attractive looking woman, yet one
created at the beginning of the ages, if we go on and read Proverbs 8: 22-31.
No, the thing I find most surprising in that picture is that Wisdom cries
out in the street, in the squares, at the busiest corner and at the entrance
of the city where everyone must come and go.
So often we think of wisdom as something we gain from books, or in
school, or by watching educational television shows, or by quiet discussions
tells us that wisdom is to be found at the very centre of everyday life.
not everyone stops to learn from her.
can be so busy in life that we never learn from God’s Wisdom.
early times great Christian teachers have taught that it is wise to end each day
in a time of prayerful reflection on the day which is past.
confess that I have often failed to do this.
early morning quiet time I usually achieve.
I can look over the day ahead and make some priorities clear.
at night often all I want to do is go to bed and go to sleep.
to do so is to fail to listen to Wisdom, who meets me every day in my
“marketplace”, in my daily activities, and calls out to me to learn from
Artists have portrayed this feminine face of God in various ways: (Overheads)
have shown that Wisdom and Word and Spirit in the Hebrew Scriptures are very
ignore the cries of Wisdom at our peril, our passage from Proverbs told us.
“Where can we find wisdom?” Part Two
can be found “in the market place”
of our everyday lives.
that is not the only place where God’s Wisdom meets us.
19 suggests two further places where Wisdom can be found.
us read together (Bible reading) Psalm
where does this passage suggest we can find God’s Wisdom?
there is more we can learn from this psalm.
Let us read together now the remaining verses,
the Hebrew Scriptures the word we translate “law”, the word Torah, means far
more than just a set of legal rules. Torah
means the first five books of the Bible, Genesis through to Deuteronomy.
It means the whole story of God’s salvation plan as it was then known
in the story of the Exodus. As we
contemplate the whole story of God’s creation and salvation of the world, we
learn Wisdom. We see how very tiny we are in comparison with the greatness
of God, and we also learn how great is God’s love for each one of us.
Here, in the careful study of the Scriptures, “the
… unique prophetic and apostolic testimony, … (we) hear the Word of God and
…(our) faith and obedience are nourished and regulated”, as the Basis of
Union tells us. The Scriptures
“testify” to God’s Word. And
like any testimony, we must explore it carefully, question it, learn from it and
discover the truth of it, not just in our heads but also in our hearts.
We must not only know it, but live it, as we heard last week.
“Where can we find wisdom?” Part Three
that has never been easy. Even in
the very presence of Jesus, the first disciples did not find it easy.
to (Bible reading) Mark 8:
knew with his head that Jesus was the Messiah.
But he could not accept with his heart what this implied.
Not until after the crucifixion and resurrection could these men even
start to accept that God’s Wisdom involves accepting suffering for the sake of
other people. God’s wisdom leads to peace, by way of the cross.
This very human Jesus accepted for himself suffering, alienation and
death, and says that all who follow him are to expect the same.
like this message no more than Peter did.
I understand it little more than Peter did.
took on himself the brokenness, the pain, the hatred, the scorn, the torture, of
the world. Throughout his life he
listened, really deeply listened to the world’s pain. And as we heard last week, he was willing to change his mind
about who was worthy to receive God’s healing.
He came to realise that that grace was a gift for all people, with it’s
only condition the acceptance of it by faith.
it was his very openness that cost him his life. The religious authorities could not accept that he would heal
on the Sabbath, or declare sins forgiven, or reach out to touch lepers or women,
or eat with tax collectors, or let a prostitute touch him.
In all of this, he took on himself the pain of the world.
And he tells us we must do the same.
We must be willing, like him, to learn from an unclean “Gentile,
Syrophoenician woman”, or her equivalents in our modern world.
There is humility. And is
not that one of the highest virtues in the list of the Beatitudes?
“Where can we find wisdom?” Part Four
the next and last scripture reading we will hear this morning is a word directed
towards me, and all the rest of us who dare to teach others.
They are words of warning and words of encouragement, for they point us
forward to the time when God will complete our sanctification, and we will be
James 3: 1-12