Sunday, 30 August 2015

Sermon, Sunday 30 August: Exploring the Lord's Prayer Series - Wk 1 'Lord, teach us to pray'

Today we began the first of our 5-part series 'Exploring the Lord's Prayer',
by looking at the two accounts of the LP found in Matthew and Luke.
We reflected upon the setting/ context of the prayer, and then
thought about how the prayer is structured.  Here's the sermon:

Week 1/ 'Lord, teach us to pray'
Readings: Matthew 6:6-13 & Luke 11:1-13

Let’s pray: 
May the words of my mouth and the meditations 
of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight, 
O Lord, our strength and our redeemer. Amen.

The story goes that, when a doctoral student at Princeton once asked: 
‘What is there left in the world for original dissertation research?’
the teacher, who just happened to be Albert Einstein, replied:
‘Find out about prayer. Somebody must find out about prayer.’

In the two versions of the Lord’s Prayer that we heard read earlier, 
we see the disciples doing just that: finding out about prayer.
And so today, and over this next five weeks, as people who follow in the footsteps
of those earlier disciples, I’m hoping that we might
find out something about prayer, as we explore the prayer that is prayed 
by Christians all around the world: the Lord’s Prayer.

But first, let’s think about the settings of these two versions of the Lord’s Prayer:
In the reading from Matthew, the Prayer is placed within a series 
of Jesus’ ongoing teachings -
beginning with the Beatitudes,
moving into ethics and God’s law, matters of justice, and of loving enemies.
The teachings then turn to practical matters around devotion to God 
- holy living, if you like - 
exploring themes such as:
giving to the needy as a sacred act,
examining how to pray,
looking at fasting,
and learning to trust in God.
Now, sure, the disciples are somewhere there in Matthew’s account, 
but really, only in the shadowy background - after all, Jesus is not teaching to empty air.

On the other hand, the context of our reading from Luke feels quite different -
Luke, after all, is a teller of stories.
In his account, the disciples are much more sharply in focus.
And what we pick up from Luke about the disciples, 
which leads to this particular point in the story, goes a little bit like this:
They had followed Jesus for a wee while.
They’d listened to his wisdom,
they’d listened to his stories.
They were learning to listen to his teachings - 
which for some of them, were hard teachings indeed.
And on one particular day, knowing Jesus to be a holy man, their ‘rabbi’,
they asked him: ‘Lord, teach us to pray’...
and so he did, by giving them -
and disciples all down through the ages,
a template - a working model for prayer.

‘Find out about prayer. Somebody must find out about prayer.’
And the Lord’s Prayer is a very good place to start 
if you’re wanting to get to grips with how to pray.
Structurally, the prayer that Jesus gave us can be broken down into two sections:
the first concerns who we’re praying to - God, 
and of the nature of the One to whom we pray.
The second is about what is being prayed for.
The first raises our eyes upwards - to God,
and in effect, our relationship with and to God - it’s a vertical focus.
The second causes us to look outwards - to God’s world,
and in effect, our relationship with and to others - it’s a horizontal focus.
We start with God, because that helps us to gain perspective.
The writer, Phillip Yancey notes that:
‘as you begin to think of the One who created the heavens and established the earth,
you begin to understand/ get a glimpse of your place in the universe’
Which reminds me of a cartoon of Calvin and Hobbes - a wee boy and his pet, stuffed tiger.
The cartoon is mostly night sky, filled with millions of stars - vast, amazing.
At the very bottom of the cartoon, are a tiny Calvin and Hobbes, looking up at this sky,
lost in awe, feeling overwhelmed and small in the scheme of things.
It’s when we begin to understand who it is that we’re praying to, that we go ‘ohhh’.
The psalmist captures this sense when he writes, in Psalm 8:
When I look at your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars
that you have established;
what are human beings
that you are mindful of them,
mortals, that you care for them?
Yet you have made them a little lower than God, 
and crowned them with glory and honour.
You have given them dominion over the
the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

And so we begin the Lord's Prayer with:
‘Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name...’

The prayer moves on:
still focused upon God, but here, looking at what to pray for.
We pray for the fulfilment of all things, the now and the not-yet of God’s kingdom...

‘thy kingdom come’;
we pray for the right ordering of things -
‘thy will be done;
we recognise that we live in an in-between time:
we want God’s kingdom to come and his will to be done -
not just in heaven, but here and now:
‘on earth as it is in heaven’
Here, I’m reminded of the Christian Aid slogan:
‘we believe in life before death.’
And so, this is the first half of the prayer -
addressing God, 
praying for the kingdom -
and, that we experience glimpses of that kingdom even here, even now.

The second half of the prayer moves to us - what do we pray for:
recognising that we are dependent
upon God for all things, we pray for life:
for nourishment, for sustenance.
‘give us this day our daily bread’.
Harking back to some of our Gospel readings over the last few weeks,
we’re reminded of Jesus calling himself ‘the bread of life,’
asking us to ‘feed’ on him.
But the bread of life is not meant in just a spiritual sense in the Lord’s Prayer,
there’s a physical aspect to it:
If we don’t have our daily bread, it’s hard to focus upon Our Father,
or much of anything else for that matter.
As we eat our daily bread - and give thanks for having it,
it also causes us to look outward:
we’re minded of those who, 
for whatever reason don’t have as much...
and a question begins to form within us:
how can we be bringers of bread, 
bringers of life, to others,
and thus, work toward the coming in of God’s kingdom, 
where there will be no more hunger?

I find it fascinating that the subject which follows immediately on from bread -
that essential, life-giving staple - is forgiveness.
‘forgive us debts, as we forgive our debtors’
How can we have any sense of abundant life
if we’re bowed down, under the burden of unforgiven debts -
the tally of those things we’ve done that we wish we hadn’t,
or those things not done that we wish we had?
And, in the same manner in which our own debts are forgiven - 
those things that we’ve done that have been set aside -
we pray that we can forgive those we feel owe us
who have done things to us, and in doing so, have accumulated 
‘debts’ of pain, of injustice, of hurt, and injury that have been built up over time.
The way of unforgiveness is debt and death:
the way of forgiveness is freedom and is life-sustaining.

The theme of that which sustains life continues:
we pray to follow in the way of life,
to keep our focus upon the One who is the giver of life: 
we pray to stay away from that which will cause harm,and, should we lose our focus,  
we pray for rescue:
‘and lead us not into temptation, 
but deliver us from evil’

Scripturally, that’s where the Lord’s Prayer finishes: with that final cry for help.
But we know that this is not how we finish the prayer when we say it. 
The last part of the prayer - which Jesus is not recorded as saying -
brings us back full circle to God:
There’s a symmetry to the way we say the Lord’s Prayer within worship 
that reminds us again of who we’re praying to...
and reminds us, quite strongly, that the prayer we pray is not to establish 
our power, or our glory:
the prayer we pray, is that God’s glory and power be shown and acknowledged.
It is both power and glory that move beyond our finite space and time,
and into the realm of eternity:
‘For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever, amen.’

....‘Find out about prayer. Somebody must find out about prayer.’
Over these next few weeks, let’s do just that, 
as we keep company with God in prayer. 
Let us pray:
Loving God
This 'Lord's Prayer', as we call it,
can make prayer seem quite easy.
It can be all too easy to read it or recite it
without really thinking about
the meaning behind the words,
even while part of our minds are
thinking about other things -
next week's menus,
an argument with a neighbour,
feeling that our views or abilities
have been overlooked...
But if we stop and think about
what we’re reciting,
they become tough words.
...'Father.' ...
What is the image we have of you?
Does it explain why sometimes we’re
 reluctant to pray? ...
'May your holy name be honoured.'
How we enjoy it when our name is honoured too!
'May your Kingdom come.'
We confess that often, we’re more concerned with our own little world,
wanting everything to go our way.
'Give us day by day the food we need.' ...
So why do we hoard supplies and throw away what we don't need?
'Forgive us our sins,
for we forgive everyone who does us wrong.'
...Can we really claim that's true of us?
'And do not bring us to hard testing.'
We admit that we long for a quiet life,
at peace with everyone. ...
Compassionate God, teach us to pray:
not just with Jesus' words,
but also with Christlike attitudes and behaviour.
Teach us not just to say the Lord's Prayer
but to live it.  Amen.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

The Lord's Prayer: a prayer for our explorations

As we move into a 5-week period in which
we will be exploring the Lord's Prayer, a prayer:

Creator God of limitless imagination, 
who fashioned the universe  and all the galaxies therein, 
who breathed life into being 
and formed the mountains and the valleys, 
the forests and the ocean deeps, 
and filled the world with creatures great and small; 
who, from the dust, created us in your image, 
and walked, and talked in dappled Garden-light 
with the first two of our kind: 
we come before you, awed by your power,
 inspired by the works of your hands, 
humbled, that you, who are greater than we can ever comprehend, 
wish to keep company with us - 
to hear the thoughts of our hearts, 
and to speak with us as friends. 
Lord, our God, our Father... 
teach us to pray anew the prayer that Jesus taught us 
and, help us to live it. Amen

Thursday, 27 August 2015

New Worship Series: Exploring the Lord's Prayer

Beginning this week, for 5 weeks:

Sundays, 10.30am, at the parish church, Abington...

Join us as we explore the prayer that unites us; 
the prayer that Jesus taught us;
the prayer we say each week in worship...

Week 1/ 'Lord, teach us to pray' 
The prayer that Jesus taught us: the context

Week 2/ 'To whom shall we pray?' 
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name...

Week 3/ 'For what shall we pray?' pt 1: heaven on earth?
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven...

Week 4/ 'For what shall we pray?' pt 2: for ourselves?
Give us this day our daily bread 
and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil

Week 5/ 'Whose glory?'
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever, amen.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Sermon, Sunday 23 August: 'Choose God'

Joshua 24:1-8, 14-18
Psalm 84 

John 6: 56-71  

Let’s pray:
May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God, our strength and our redeemer.  Amen.

She has a look of concentration on her face:
concentration mingled with hope, yearning.
Having been given a choice that could change her life completely, 
she takes the plunge.
Taking a deep breath, she utters the words:
There’s no place like home…
There’s no place… like home.

In last Sunday’s sermon,
the film ‘Forrest Gump’ was mentioned.
And, as some of you might have deduced already, 
today we’re continuing on with the ‘film’ theme 
as we reflect on the subject of
choosing to follow God. 

Occasionally I’m given to making pulpit confessions, 
and today is one of those days:
Yes, I’m about to utter a deep, dark secret…
I’m going to make a confession to you all which I know –
discreet and kind people that you are –
will not be repeated outside of these four walls.
My confession is this:
one of my favourite films of all time is ‘The Wizard of Oz’ 
and of course, I confess this with more than 
just a wee bit of embarrassment!!
But, come on, what’s not to like about this movie? 
munchkins –
singing munchkins! 
flying monkeys wearing fez,
tornados dropping houses on witches,
a lion,
a tinman,
a scarecrow,
a little girl lost,
and… a cute little dog.

In the movie –                     
and if you haven’t seen it yet,
here’s the warning about possible spoilers -                                     
in the movie, the main character, Dorothy,
longs to leave home and have exciting adventures
which, ultimately, she does when she’s caught up in a tornado 
that takes her to the wonderful land of Oz.                
Ironically, having wanted to leave home,
she spends the rest of the movie desperately trying to get back there…                                

Towards the end of the movie -
the bit before we fade from glorious technicolour back into black and white -
she’s given a choice by Glinda, the good fairy:
Dorothy can go home.
All she has to do is to click her ruby red slippers three times and say:
‘There’s no place like home.’ 
‘There’s no place like home.’    
‘There’s no place like home.’    

But, having spent quite some time in Oz,
and, having made deep friendships through
shared adventures and dangers,
and, having come to care for the people of this strange new, and very colourful world,
it’s a much harder decision to make:
the journey,
the pilgrimage
has changed her.
However, even as she looks around the Emerald City and at her friends,
she realises where her heart’s true home is:
She clicks her heels, and says the words.
Dorothy, and her little dog Toto, make it home. 

In our readings this morning we find, intertwined, 
themes of journey, of home, of making choices.
In the Book of Joshua, the Israelites have followed God 
from Egypt and through the Wilderness. 
They have followed this particular god for forty years.
They have been a displaced people, longing for their heart’s true home.
Having reached the Promised Land, and begun to make their home,
they’re faced with a choice.
Joshua asks them: ‘who will you choose?’
Faced with other gods and with the God who has led them home,
they choose the God who has been their home,
the God who has chosen them.
As one, they choose to serve the Lord, alongside Joshua and his family.   

Turning to our Gospel reading: 
this takes place just after Jesus has talked of himself
as the ‘bread of life’ - and talks of his followers ‘feeding on him’.
Strange talk - ‘a hard teaching’, his disciples call it.
We, who are so used to the notion of the bread and wine of communion,
perhaps find it less ‘strange’. 
But the disciples, hearing this for the first time,
are very probably thinking about cannibalism and are, quite rightly, horrified. 
And this misunderstanding is one that will follow the early Christians around.
The Roman, Pliny the Younger, has a famous description of these strange Christians and
their cult of cannibalism - a reference to communion.

For the disciples listening to Jesus, a choice must be made,
and, according to our text:
‘many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him’
They couldn’t see beyond a literal understanding of his words.
Jesus asks the Twelve, his inner circle: 
‘you do not want to leave too, do you?’
And these disciples choose to stay.
‘Where would we go, you have the words of eternal life’, says Peter.
Instinctively, they know that they’ve found their heart’s true home 
in the person of Christ.
They choose him.

Our psalm is also about choosing God:
but is a little more upbeat than our other readings.
Here we have uncontained joy.
It’s about journeying home - to God.
It’s also what set me off on my Wizard of Oz thoughts because 
as I read it, I saw in my mind a yellow brick road to follow, follow, follow.
And so, let’s spend a little time with Psalm 84 this morning
and, if you’d like to follow along in your bibles, please do so.
Psalm 84 belongs to a group of psalms known as ‘Songs of Zion,’  
Psalms used when on pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem.
This psalm was one that pilgrims would have sung together 
as they made their journey to worship in God’s house.
And as you read the psalm you get a sense of the excitement of the pilgrims…
A sense of expectation.
A sense of joy - the joy of those who,
having chosen to serve God,
expect to meet God 
when they reach the Temple.

As with our other readings, and even with our friend, Dorothy, 
there’s a strong sense of yearning that can be felt within the psalm.
In verses 1 and 2, the psalmist’s fervent longing is to see and to be in the temple in
Jerusalem - to be in the house of God:
‘how lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! My soul yearns,
even faints for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God’

Over 1500 years ago, St. Augustine wrote quite beautifully 
about this sense of yearning, this sense of longing when he said:                    
‘You have made us for yourself,
and our hearts are restless
until they find their rest in You.’
With those words he captured the sense of spiritual longing that many of us have as we
make our way as pilgrims in this life seeking again, and again to choose God, 
to follow in his ways.

For the pilgrims journeying to the Temple,
and for us, even now, as we journey towards God,
there’s the expectation that at the end of the journey 
we will actually arrive somewhere:
that there’s a destination,
that at journey’s end, there’s home.
And it’s faith that fuels that expectation.
Faith understands that God will guide us home,
understands that we, like the children of Israel, will find the Promised Land.
It’s faith that trusts that at the end of the journey, 
those who dwell in God’s presence are happy and blessed.  
For  it’s faith which understands that home is where our hearts find our rest –
and that our rest is found in God.
And, as verse 4 of the psalm states: 
‘blessed are those who dwell in your house…’

The psalmist reminds us, too, that provision will be made 
for those who choose to follow God.
In verses 5&7, the psalmist speaks of God sustaining the pilgrim on the journey,
and the resulting joy - rejoicing in God’s mercy and faithfulness:
‘blessed are those whose strength is in you…’
And, nodding in the general direction of our gospel passage this morning,
Jesus, in calling himself bread of life, reminds his disciples once again 
that he is the one who sustains and nourishes forever –
as we journey in him, as we find our rest in him and feed on him, 
so we find comfort and life. 
Often, journeys can be quite difficult, 
but the psalmist reminds us that we will find God’s 
strength and presence with us.  Not only that, but making the journey 
can also bring about refreshing.                            
The psalmist mentions the Valley of Baca, a place of wilderness,                              
a desert the pilgrims travelled through on their way to Zion.                               
The psalm implies that the pilgrims’ journey 
had the power to bring relief to such a barren place –                         
it becomes a place of springs.
Choosing God then,
results in us becoming a source of blessing to the world, and to others.    

And what of reaching the final destination?
In Verses 10-12, the psalmist speaks of finding a place in God’s home  –                     
and that home is better than anywhere else could possibly be…
even the wonderful world of Oz:                                  
‘Better one day in your courts than a thousand days elsewhere. 
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God 
than dwell in the tents of the  wicked.’ 

The psalm is about our lives as a journey of faith – as we choose to follow God.
We live our lives as pilgrims with our eyes set on our true home.         
That home is a place where God withholds no good thing,        
a place where our restless hearts find rest.
We come home
when we choose God - 
there’s no place like home.   Amen. 

Friday, 21 August 2015

Junction 13: once more unto the breach, dear singers!!

We're back! 

Welcoming new friends and old from August 27, as we gear up for 

'The Big (community) Gig' in October - 

Come and get those endorphins going, let's all sing!

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Sermon, Sunday 16 August 'Choose wisdom'

READING: 1 Kings 2: 10-12; 3: 3-14 
READING Proverbs 9:1-6
READING Ephesians 5:15-20

SERMON ‘Choose wisdom’
Let’s pray:
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all 
our hearts be acceptable in your sight, 
O lord our strength and our redeemer.  Amen.

If God said to you: what shall I give you?’ 
If you could ask for anything – absolutely anything…
What would you ask for?
It’s a tantalising question, isn’t it?
Being very predictable: I’d be fighting the very strong
urge to ask God to install a lake of chocolate in the backyard…

But in the book of Kings, God does ask someone the question. 
Solomon is praying – interestingly, not at Jerusalem
where the Ark of the Covenant is –
but up in the heights at an altar…
And in a dream God comes to him
and asks that ever-so-tantalising question:
what shall I give you?

Solomon, after thinking it through asks for wisdom. 
And God is pleased with the request –
so pleased in fact, that fame and wealth
and the potential for a long life are all thrown in as well.
But what is wisdom?

In the midst of my bookshelves, I have a very small book 
that mostly gathers dust, but it’s very apt when it comes to this theme of wisdom:
it’s called ‘The Wee Book of Calvin’ –
and it’s filled with lots of different Calvinist-inspired home-spun wisdom –
the sorts of things grannies or great aunties would be 
likely to come out with when the occasion merited  -
or perhaps that’s just my gran and great aunty! 
The book has sayings such as:
'Self pity never boiled a haddock.'
'Let the laddie play with the knife.  He’ll learn.'
And the cheering thought:
'For every summer morning, a winter night to come'
And lastly, my own two personal favourites:
'No whip cuts so deep as the lash of guilt'
'Swim in sin and drown in sorrow'

Not particularly ‘sunshiny, put a smile on your face’ stuff…
which is possibly the point,
because underneath all of these
different bits of home-spun wisdom
there’s a deep sense of foreboding:
the understanding that,
life is a serious business,
not to be frittered away by being frivolous. 
One must be circumspect and live wisely.

And, as you’ll have no doubt noticed, our bible readings 
this week all seem focus on wisdom. 
We’ve mentioned Solomon already, 
who prays for wisdom at the beginning of his reign.
In the book of Proverbs, wisdom is portrayed 
as a hostess, who has prepared a banquet of good food and wine,
and invites everyone to the party.
And in the letter to the Ephesians, there are two contrasts:
foolish behaviour and wise behaviour,
and between being filled with wine or filled with the Holy Spirit. 
All of this again begs the question:
what exactly is ‘wisdom’?

While ‘self-pity may never have boiled a haddock’,
can wisdom be boiled down to a bunch of pithy sayings,
or is there more to wisdom than this?
What is wisdom and how do we get it?
If we were to read on, in the book of Proverbs, 
we’d learn that ‘the first step to wisdom is the fear of the Lord, 
and knowledge of the Most Holy One is understanding’
Or to parphrase a little simplistically:
If God is the source of all wisdom, perhaps it’s a good plan 
to get to know God – and in effect, to tap into the source. 
As Paul says to the Ephesians:
Let the Holy Spirit fill you…

Last week, we thought about what it was to be imitators of God…
we talked about being kind or loving to ourselves,
our families, our neighbours,
which reflected God’s love, spilling out into the world...
In a sense, what it is to be a Christian. 
And Paul continues along this theme.
To be filled with God’s love;
to acknowledge God’s love in our lives;
to give thanks every day for every thing;
to make music from our heart to God;...
all of this, is, in Paul’s view the wise way of living.
But there’s more:
If we wander back to Solomon’s request,
we find out about the impact of wisdom:
Solomon’s understanding about wisdom
is centred around being a just ruler –
to be able to discern good from evil. 
If one can’t do that, Solomon says, one can’t rule properly. 
Wisdom here, is about justice,
about ‘just’ living not merely just living!

And, there’s more:
Back to Proverbs:
Wisdom is portrayed as hospitable –
setting out a banquet
and asking even the foolish –
especially the foolish to come:
to eat,
to drink from the table of wisdom
and to live fully. 
It’s a party for everyone:
Wisdom is inclusive and welcoming,
not exclusive and unwelcoming.
And contrary to the notion that
we shouldn’t be enjoying ourselves,
or else we’ll pay for it,
following the path of wisdom leads
to good, filling, tasty food for both body and soul –
and this is reflected in the way that Jesus describes himself as ‘the bread of life’.

If we were to read on further in Proverbs,
we’d see that Lady Wisdom
is contrasted with Lady Stupididity:
this lady offers refreshment too,
but unlike the rich banquet on offer at Wisdom’s house,
here the offer is stolen water and bread…
if you go into Lady Stupidity’s house,
you are ultimately unfilled –
- and going there leads to death. 
Pretty grim stuff.

Wisdom and stupidity are woven throughout
the bible and often in the context of contrasting
worldly wisdom against spiritual wisdom.
To those wise in the world,
the choices that people of faith make,
the way we live,
appears foolish
The wisdom of the world is the wisdom of now. 
It’s the wisdom of choosing a sound-byte
over a long-term solution to a difficult problem. 
It’s the wisdom of get all you can,
while you can,
whichever way you can.   
It’s the instant, knee-jerk reaction
to yet another home-spun saying, this from the movie Forrest Gump:
‘life is like a box of chocolates –
you never know what you’re going to get’.
Forrest expresses a sense of life as being utterly random:
And, in the face of this ‘life is random’ attitude,
the wisdom of the world says
‘grab what you can, now!’ 
The focus becomes self-centred, self-absorbed.  

We know that in some places of the world,
that the sense of randomness echoed
in Forrest’s saying is shown quite dramatically:
in acts of violence brought about by war –
being in the wrong place at the wrong time;
or in seemingly random acts of nature –
unexpected earthquake, fire,  or flood.

In our own lives, life can seem like that box of random chocolates:
remember the suddenness of the credit crunch
and subsequent increase in job losses,
in businesses closing?
Those effects still present,
seen in families finding themselves in dire need
and having to resort to food banks to survive?
Or other seemingly random events:
when friends or family unexpectedly fall out,
or decide to move away,
or get ill, or suddenly die …

in the midst of the seemingly random world we live in,
as God’s people,
we can plug into a deeper wisdom –
God’s wisdom –
which teaches us that no matter what life throws at us, 
we are in God’s hands -
his children, his beloved ones,
and that in the midst of it all, He is with us.
And so wisdom is a source of comfort and strength.
But also, as God’s people in the world,
called to be imitators of him - called to be wise
we follow the path of God’s wisdom -
the path that Jesus walked before us.
The way of love: for love is wisdom in action.
That path takes us to where we
bind the wounds of the broken-hearted –
the one’s suffering the effects of those who've trampled 
heedlessly down the path of foolishness grabbing all they can;
It results in us crying out against injustice;
It is the path of peace in the midst of conflict;
It is the way of restoration and sharing, as
we feed those starving from Lady Stupidity’s banquet
with the bread of life that always fills.

Wisdom is not necessarily about being someone with a giant brain
or having a massive IQ,
nor does it necessarily have anything to do with being older. 
As I pick through the readings on offer today,
I suspect that wisdom is very much tied in 
with understanding what really matters in life;
it’s working out how to live fully. 
It’s understanding that being connected to God
is important and not only that,
it’s working at staying connected to God through life. 

Thinking back to the movie Forrest Gump,
Forrest, we’re told, has an exceptionally low IQ,
and yet, paradoxically, his seeming simplicity
is used as a foil to demonstrate that while those around him 
may be smarter in the IQ department, Forrest is the one who has wisdom:
he is the one who understands at a profound level
what truly matters in life: love
of God,
of others.

What is wisdom?  Where do we find it?
Perhaps wisdom is found as we look to God –
through understanding and trusting
that although we may not know the future,
we’re on a journey with
the One who is the Fount of all Wisdom,
the One who holds our future in his hands. 
It’s knowing that in God,
there is indeed a future – as well as a present –
which is abundant and life-giving
and that we are called to share God’s abundance,
God’s fullness of life with others.

A disciple once asked his spiritual director a question:
‘Holy One, what is the difference between knowledge and wisdom?’
The holy one answered
‘When you have knowledge, you use a torch to show the way. 
When you are wise, you become the torch.’

Let us go into God’s good world as torches,
shining – and sharing –
God’s abundance,
God’s justice,
And God’s profound wisdom with the world. 
In Jesus’ name, amen.