Wisdom teaches us something about ourselves...
Ephesians 5:15 ‘Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people, but as wise people making the most of the time, because the days are evil.’
This current Covid-19 lockdown is going on far longer than we expected and there seems to be no end in sight, with rising numbers of cases in New South Wales each day.
What can these words which Paul wrote to the Ephesian church say to us at this time? Be careful, Paul says. We are all being urged to be careful by our governments: careful not to catch the virus and careful not to spread it to others. I am sure many of us are wondering what is the wise thing to do: take the vaccine or not? Who really knows? Only time will tell.
It doesn’t take much time reflecting on our world to acknowledge that there is a lot of evil in the world. The problem for us is that there is so much evil, so much that we become disheartened, despondent and disillusioned and do nothing. What can we do about climate change? How can we influence those who are benefitting from the destruction of the environment? What can we do to end corruption by political and religious leaders? What can we do to end wars and stop the spread of famine and the mass migration of refugees and animals and birds and fish; and disease across the planet?
Don’t you wish that the people of the world would be a lot wiser? Don’t you wish that you were wiser? Wisdom is something we would all like more of, isn’t it?
This week, I listened to a training session on Conflict Transformation given two Quakers. Quakers (The Religious Society of Friends) are known for pacificism and peaceful living, telling the truth and honesty, but perhaps most of all for sitting in silence together waiting on the Spirit to speak to their hearts. At the end of the Conflict Transformation training session, one participant said, “I have come to realise that conflict transformation is not about transforming conflict into non-conflict, but it is about how I see things, how I view the conflict and the changes that occur within me. In a similar way it could be said that Wisdom is not the ability to know the answers to all the evils heaped upon the world and wisdom is not the ability to know which choice to make or the right decision, or the best way forward but rather wisdom teaches us something about ourselves, how we see things, how we see ourselves, how we view the world.
Twenty one years ago I wrote in a sermon, ‘True wisdom to me is not found so much in solving the endless mysteries of life but rather in appreciating and honouring the commonplace things of life. Wisdom is found in the conversation over a cup of Tea, the shared moment at the bus stop, in the jumbled conversation with the person rejected from most ‘important’ arenas in life. Wisdom is found in that precious moment between yourself and another person, and God.
Paul tells the Ephesians that wisdom comes from being filled with the Spirit not by getting drunk on wine. It is easy to become religious, going through the motions, settling for a religion of the mind but not tending to the heart. I think we need not just a sense of self worth (a struggle we may have in our mind) but also one of Soul worth, of caring for one’s soul. For me there is great wisdom in the simplicity of recognising Jesus in the faces of suffering, listening for God’s voice in the silence, feeling the wind of the Spirit on one’s face and taking it deep into one’s lungs.
Psalm 111:10 says, ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding.’ For me wisdom is found in a deep and humble respect of God and in a deep and humble respecting of people and of all life: respecting the air, the water, the soil and animals and birds, insects and fish.
Perhaps if we consider what Paul wrote: how to make the most of our time, taking care about how we live we might ask ourselves are we living life to the full or just wasting our time away? Are our lives on hold or is there room here, somewhere to develop some wisdom?
If you get the opportunity during this time of being locked down, please take the time to explore what this wisdom is that the Bible hints at. Take the time to find it within yourself; to find your wisdom and the alternative life that lives within you.
Loving God, source of all wisdom and truth,
at this time, as we come to the end of winter and to the beginning of Spring,
we already can see leaves returning to trees,
and the sweet scent of Jasmine beginning to fill the air.
As the warmth of the Sun brings new growth,
may the warmth of your love
enliven new growth in our lives.
As the dry land drinks in the rain,
sustain us with your deep wisdom,
that our lives may again blossom with the flowers and fruit
of lives lived in wisdom.
God, who searches the hearts of all humanity,
search our hearts today.
Hear our cries for forgiveness.
Help us to forgive those who have hurt us.
Remove from us all falsehood and dishonesty.
Renew our desire to speak and live the truth.
Forgive us for acting in ignorance. (Silent prayer)
We pray for our planet earth, with all its pollution and environmental degradation.
We pray for the world: seeking justice, reconciliation, unity and peace. (Silent prayer)
We pray for the leaders of the nations and community and religious leaders, that they may reflect your values and seek your wisdom. (Silent prayer)
We pray for those who seek healing this day… (Silent prayer)
We pray for wisdom and love in caring for one another. (Silent prayer)
May wisdom flourish in these evil days.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
for today and always.
Minister of Campsie Earlwood Clemton Park Uniting Church Congregation