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Sunday, 12 November 2017

The Faces of Wisdom

Wisdom is radiant and unfading, and she is easily discerned by those who love her, and is found by those who seek her. She hastens to make herself known to those who desire her. One who rises early to seek her will have no difficulty, for she will be found sitting at the gate. To fix one’s thought on her is perfect understanding, and one who is vigilant on her account will soon be free from care, because she goes about seeking those worthy of her, and she graciously appears to them in their paths, and meets them in every thought. (Wisdom of Solomon 6.12-16)
Bit of a reflection on Wisdom, if you don't mind.

Wisdom is found in the Old Testament, and in the Apocrypha, as a person. A female character. The sort of woman that can keep people on the straight and narrow, by teaching them how to live. Wisdom popping up as a kind of divine personification is quite odd, as the Old Testament isn't always that keen on having entities that look a bit like gods. So you've got to presume that she's like a metaphor, to the Jews at least.

And for the most part, the way she tells us to live is: calmly, being rational, keeping your nose clean, being prudent but also generous. Guarding what you say. Worshipping God. Quietly. Like being a good Anglican really.

Jesus takes the idea of Wisdom further - the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes (Blessed are the...) are the same concept of what do you have to do to be blessed. But he kind of expands out from the calmness of it all - blessed are those that hunger and thirst after righteousness is a lot less moderate.

Now the Greeks had a concept called the Logos - the rational thought behind the Universe. And there was a Jew called Philo, who looked at the Greek Logos and described it as a first-born of Creation. St John in Chapter 1 of the Gospel equates Jesus with that Logos.

And St Paul equates Jesus with Wisdom: "But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption - that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord." (1 Corinthians 1:18-2:16).

So if you know true Wisdom, you know Jesus. And if you know Jesus you are in a relationship with the Logos - the One who is God, and is with God, and was with God in the beginning.

The Wisdom of Solomon tells us how to know Wisdom. Get up when it's quiet. Wisdom will be waiting at the gates - not in the noise and bustle of the town. You will meet need, and human connection, in the town. Or the Internet. Or the news on telly. But when you get pace and quiet you can hear God's Spirit whisper.

The Psalm says, "They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;these see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep." Again sometimes you need to be away from the bustle to hear God's Wisdom.

Doesn't mean you should forsake the towns and the company of others forever. Or you can't love your neighbour. But sometimes to find Wisdom you have to get away. Clear your brain. Pray and be rested. Jesus, after all, did much the same.

And if you take the time and space, and meet with Wisdom, that logic that founded the Universe and keeps every star in motion and the heart of every child beating you find that's not just a disembodied principle. God's Wisdom is the Son of God - and you meet with him in prayer and in God's word.

So seek Wisdom. Not the world's, which tells you to pile up riches and stay forever young. But God's, which stays with you forever and is your friend, your companion and your Saviour.

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