Sunday, January 3, 2016

Wisdom Among Us

Today's message was very conversational. This is the manuscript from which I lead the reflection.

BBTaylor, wrote, “John has essentially rewritten the opening verses of Genesis in his prologue, placing the Word with God from the beginning.”(1)
What or Who is the “Word”?
Is “Word” a metaphor? —— 
What does it mean to you that Jesus is referred to as “Word”?

Another scholar pointed out that “All human language about God must of necessity be metaphorical.”(2)                     

What did you think of the children’s book? 
Were those "names" - metaphors for God?
Did you agree or did it push the envelope about God and religions too far for you?   You don’t have to agree, with it or with me…

How about the words we all read together from Sirach…
How does Wisdom compare to God

We have spent time with physics and physical concepts this year. Today we will be metaphysical. 
Sometimes we speak about our understanding of God as “trinitarian”. What does that mean?
  • 3 in one God
  • Experiences of God, Creator/ Redeemer/ Sustainer
  • God, Christ, Holy Spirit
why is our language of 3 a problem for some people in other faiths? Some in Islam? Some who are Jews?
Why did Jesus language get him in trouble/ killed?

How or Where does the “WORD” fit in?
Where does WISDOM fit in those 3 expressions of God?
“Clearly Sirach closely identifies Wisdom with God’s own self.”(3)

The beginning of the year is a perfect time to seek God’s wisdom. And the journey to wisdom begins with trying to understand what we can know about God.
Jewish honoring of God’s Name
We get in trouble when we try to define God.
Jewish.. no speak no write…

The beginning of Moses’ story (that we will touch on next week in Big Sunday), includes God’s self-revelation to him. After being told by God to visit Pharaoh with God’s message. Moses says, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,” and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?”
"tetragrammaton". YHWH 
WHAT DOES OUR BIBLE substitute for YHWH? ="LORD"

The good thing about not saying God’s name is it reminds US to  that the word, God, or any name we use for God, are not God, but merely descriptions that fall woefully short of the fullness of the Divine.

Perhaps that is our first “wisdom takeaway” today. 

Remember that we can’t contain God in a name or any concept we have.

“We can become to tied to certain metaphors—God as shepherd, God as Faith, God as king—that we fail to recognize their imitation We can begin to confuse our metaphors for God’s reality, transforming our words into idols.”(4)

ACOB'S favorite word for God or describing God? = Love

Kendra Hotz also said, “One of the surest ways to break our idolatry and expand our vision of God is to apply the full range of biblical metaphors and images for God, including its feminine imagery. The passage from Sirach can provide an opportunity to reflect on our language about God.”(5)

We reflect today and seek to know God’s wisdom. We might also recall that theologians have spoken of God’s self-revelation in two-ways
  1. general revelation - the ways God is made known to us thru the natural world and is accessible to our reason
  2. special revelation, the ways God is made known to us by God’s self-revelation, like to Moses, and in the history of Israel and in the life of Jesus. (including his death and resurrection)(6)
(Taylor also points out that the John scripture doesn’t put down the revelation to Moses in favor of the one found in Jesus. Instead, it is one more, a continuing revelation.)(7)

A personal reflection question: re: General Revelation

What General Ways, have you found God? .. thru the natural world and your own reasoning?

(where have you seen God?) me vs. Carl Sagan

As Christians, we see God in Jesus. John’s poetry is one way to describe Jesus, (probably not the first we’d use) yet it helps us add another dimension to the human Jesus that we would otherwise miss.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. … What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people." Jn 1:4 

We are used to thinking of Jesus as the light of the world. This is why you brought candles to place on our worship center. The light in in your home,—- YOUR light -lights up THIS place - and we are all ENLIGHTENED by the light that is Jesus.

What wisdom has the Light of the World brought to us?

Let’s focus it down to this,

What wisdom does Christianity offer the world?

In the days just past and those ahead, many people will turn to self-help columns and books to assist their New Year’s resolutions. Sirach AND John offer us wisdom that transcend the self-help gurus. 

In the COB, we have discerned particular truths that we can rightly call wisdom.

What wisdom does the COB offer the world?

the COB and this passage in Sirach along with Mennonites and some others, offer the particular insight that wisdom is found in community and that “she occupies herself with serving God.” 

Is this not part of the wisdom the COB has to offer the world?
 YOUR light illuminates THIS church, this congregation. (Individually but even more, collectively)

We focus the wisdom we have found in Christ's community by following Jesus’ teachings and example. He gave himself to and for his community… and ours. He lived in service to the world.

What is our purpose?
What are we here, in this church?
What is it we are to do?
these were the questions the Church Board wrestled with, of course we tend to answer them with the functions that we have known the church to do. Yet it is very important as we begin each year, to look again at why we are here.

“We are invited to be part of a specific kind of community whose purpose is not to enhance the life experience of its members but to serve God.”(8)

The specific tasks we will do in 2016 to live that purpose is some of what we will flesh out at our Church Retreat.

The gift has come to us - God’s gift of “self-revelation” in Jesus, known as the Messiah. Because God reveled God’s self to Israel so they could be a blessing to others. 

and then God was seen in Jesus, a continuing revelation of God… (the light of the world.)

Where is God seen today?….

I trust the answer is..  HERE!

God’s wisdom is here among us!

John concludes the section known as the prologue with these words, “The Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as a only son, full of grace and truth.” (Jn 1:14)

The light is here, we are living in God’s wisdom when we live in Christian community. Your seeking for wisdom begins and ends here. 

We have only to take this light, God’s wisdom, out into the world.

May that be our ONLY mission this year!

The End
 1.Barbara Brown Taylor Feasting on the Word - Homiletical (Louis:WJK,2009)193
2. Kendra G. Hotz Feasting on the Word - Theological (Louis:WJK,2009)174
3. Hotz p.172
4. Hotz p. 174
5. Hotz p. 174
6. Hotz p. 170
7. Taylor p. 189
8. Stephens Lytch Feasting on the Word - Homiletical (Louis:WJK,2009) 173

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