Except for our gospel this morning, all of our readings have to do with wisdom.  Solomon, invited to ask God for anything at all, asks for wisdom.  And God thinks this was the right thing to ask for.  Our psalm suggests that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom — again, seen as a good thing.  And in Ephesians we are exhorted to live as wise people.

Wisdom seems to be important.

And although our gospel doesn’t talk about wisdom, it is a reading from John’s gospel, which seems to develop the first creation story from Genesis — you remember that story, don’t you?  In the beginning God created.  And how did God create?  God created by speaking things into being.

And how does John’s prologue, John’s creation story start?  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being …”

The Greek word which we translate as “word” is “logos.”  And the logos is much more than just a spoken word.  It is what gives shape and order and meaning to things.  You might even think of it as the organizing principle of the world.

In Genesis God speaks creation into being — shapes and forms and orders it out of nothing.  In John, Jesus, as God’s logos, gives shape and order and form to all things.  Without this ordering from Jesus, there is nothing.  Everything, absolutely everything, comes to us from Jesus.  Jesus is the truth behind every truth.  Jesus is the one who gave order and structure to all that is.

Some Christians like to set up a dichotomy between God’s truth and the truth of science or philosophy or the world.  They say, there’s God’s truth, and there are all these others truths that do not come from God.  But if Jesus created the order and shape and meaning of all things, then any truth that comes from what Jesus created is from Jesus, isn’t it?  When we make sense of the world about us with science or philosophy or whatever, we are discovering the shape and meaning that Jesus has given to creation.

We will still misunderstand.  We will still only partly understand.  But that’s part of being human.  We will also, I guarantee it, continue to misunderstand or only partially understand our relationship with God and the theology that tries to make sense of it for us.

This is God’s good world.  And God has given us life, in the words of an African catechism, “because he thought we’d like it.”  And the Church exists, Henry Nouwen tells us, “not [as] an institution forcing us to follow it’s rules [but as] a community of people inviting us to still our hunger and thirst at its tables.”  I think that fits in well with your sense of being a welcoming community here at St. Francis.  And God’s good world, God’s gift to us, comes, obviously, from God.  All of it!

God invites us to learn about this world we live in.  Maybe “fear of the Lord” (which I hear as living with a sense of the awesome, numenal presence of God in our lives) is the beginning of wisdom.  But we are exhorted to live as wise people, to learn the truth about the world around us and about our relationship with God and each other.  As Solomon knew (and God confirmed) wisdom is a good thing.

It is good to know how God’s world works.  This is true in direct religious experience, theology, philosophy, science, economics …  You name it.

If Jesus gave order and shape and meaning to everything, we learn about Jesus as we come to understand more about what Jesus has made and given us.

I suspect, personally, that our most important learnings may be about relationship.  How we live in relationship to God may be the most important thing we have to learn.  It may call for the most wisdom, if you will.

But maybe it would be useful to think about the world God has given us as a school or practice field.  I think we learn most about how to be in relationship with God by learning how to be in relationship with the people around us.  Benedict saw monastic communities in that light.  But we might think of our families and friends — and even this church community — in this light.  We might be here, in words that I think come from kindergarten, in order to learn to work and play well with others.

And as we learn that, with the people God has gifted us with in our lives, we also learn to work and play well with God.  Not that prayer, time spent in God’s presence, corporate and private, is not essential.  But the most concrete way we learn to be in relationship, the place we get the most direct feedback (and probably learn the most) is in our relationships with other people.

Learning how to be in healthy relationships, demands that we learn a kind of wisdom — doesn’t it?  And that wisdom comes from God.  God created us so that we could learn and grow, not just from childhood into adulthood, but for all our lives — in this world and the next.

I say this to you in the Name of God:  Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer.   Amen.

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