Collect and Readings for The Eleventh Sunday after Trinity, 1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14, Proverbs 9:1-6, Psalm 111, Psalm 34:9-14, Ephesians 5:15-20, John 6:51-58;The Prayer for today O God, you declare your almighty power most chiefly in showing mercy and pity: mercifully grant to us such a measure of your grace, that we, running the way of your commandments, may receive your gracious promises, and be made partakers of your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
In our Old Testament reading, Solomon asks for wisdom because he is acutely aware of his lack of experience and unreadiness for the task of reigning over God's people. Knowing his needs makes him able to ask for it. We all need to recognise our ignorance in order to want to learn. In the reading from the Book of Proverbs, the lady Wisdom calls out to those who recognise that they are simple, and want to increase their wisdom, which is in contrast with the lady Folly, who is encouraging people to drown out any higher calling and indulge their instincts and pleasure drives instead. Too late they will realise that her misleading call was to death, whereas Wisdom will lead her followers into a life of order and inner harmony.
In our reading from Ephesians, too, we are advised to live wisely, making good use of every opportunity since the times are evil. The inference is that unless we are consciously walking positively in God's direction, we can so easily find ourselves sucked into foolishness of living contrary to God's will for us. Wisdom is seen as living in inner peace and harmony with the God of our making.
If we are to get anywhere near such a state, we will need to walk expectantly and as disciples, rather than experts defending our position, and feeling offended every time we are tutored or instructed. In our Gospel reading, the religious leaders' status and learning was an enormous block to wisdom. They had too much to protect to risk walking in the nakedness of honesty.
We need to check any areas where we consider ourselves, or others consider us, experts or professionals, since these are precisely the areas where we shall find it hardest to place ourselves in the humility of discipleship.
It is hard for these learned religious teachers to understand his message, hung up as they are on precise detail instead of seeing the whole vision. They would hear Jesus' words not as a wonderful metaphor for God becoming one with his people through his Son, with all the wholesome nourishment and life-giving that the idea of bread contains; rather, they would hear it as a shocking blasphemy, with this wandering teacher aligning himself with the sacrificial Passover lamb and claiming to bring eternal freeing from sin.
So they end up rejecting the fulfilment of the very idea they have studied and taught for years – that one day God will be 'with us' in person, and save us from our sin.
Some things to do as you to reflect:
What is the difference between being clever, learned and knowledgeable, and being wise?
Why do learned and clever people often find it harder to understand God's wisdom?
How do we teach our children wisdom?
Who do you know who you would classify as wise?
God bless and stay safe and well.
Rev'd Fiona Robinson