Another brief romp through the lectionary for next Sunday, September 23
Where is wisdom to be found? I recall many years ago, in the last millennium, when we young bachelor ministers in training listened to a lecture on how to pick “a suitable minister’s wife.” Such was the swiftly changing generational aspirations and sensibilities of the time that the topic was swiftly dropped. We baulk at the language of patriarchy in this passage and, in so doing, put ourselves in danger of dismissing cultural intelligence. It is the wisdom of the time and place and reveals a picture of domestic poise, order and productivity. Where power and authority typically resided in the male, the text provides a counterpoint and maybe even a subtle counterpoint to such notions of male hubris.
Where is wisdom to be found? “In the law of God” – that is the Torah – the teaching of a way of life that emerged as a band of escaped slaves were formed into a community destined to be a blessing to all nations. Immersion, saturation, and marination in such teaching lead to strength and fruitful results. Otherwise, all fades and is blown away like dust.
Where is wisdom to be found? In you, says James – that is when you live the life to which you have been called, drawing on the “wisdom from above” which is pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits and without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. This wisdom does not come gently, however – we are prone to be drawn into conflict and dispute against which God’s Spirit in us strives.
Where is wisdom to be found? Jesus contemplates and prepares his followers for his coming death as they journey through Galilee. He catches some of them discussing succession – possibly who’s going to be in charge when he’s gone. He brings a small child into their midst. Where is wisdom? Look no further than welcoming this child and serving the least influential of all.