July 8, 2001 Wisdom: Companion Guide
Children’s message: “What’s a Proverb?”
Shared Joy is double joy and shared sorrow is half sorrow. Swedish Proverb:
Proverbs 8: 1-11, 22-31
The Gospel According to Luke 10: 1-11
Long ago and far away, when most of the Hebrew bible was first being written down, the people of Israel were slave labor in Babylon, desperately trying to hold onto the story of being God’s chosen people.
The captors who “required of them songs and mirth,” told their own creation story in war sagas, with gods mercilessly subduing and slaying their own fathers and mothers, who represented various aspects of the world’s creation.
Biblical scholar Raymond Van Leeuwen, calls Proverbs
“narratives in a nutshell.” I think of them as snapshots in a family album that carry our faith family’s values.
The Proverbs that Jesus’ faith-family collected carry remnants of a creation story in which God first created a companion called, “wisdom.These proverbs remind us that we are not in this thing we call life alone.
We have each other,
We also have God’s first companion, Wisdom.
Proverbs 8:22-31 is a remnant of a very different creation story, one that values wisdom and companionship, not violence and competition.
Now, even though our creation stories don’t begin with the bloody conflicts of the Babylonions, we know that it doesn’t take too long before conflict creeps in. (read Proverbs 9:7-9)
In our Gospel reading we just heard Jesus teach the 70 being sent out before him what to do with inhospitable folks. It went something like this.
Peace to your House!”
slam! Goes the door.
(Wipe dust from feet)
What happens to the peace that was offered?
“If anyone who is there shares in that peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not it will return to you.”
Having Christ’s peace thrown back in our face is not what we’re looking for when we go enthusiastically out to share God’s good news.
Could the modern proverb be true?
“A friend is one who dislikes the same people you dislike.”
Is that why Jesus sent them out in pairs?
Or is it that,
“Friendship, like phosphorus, shines brightest when all around is dark.”
Which proverb carries our “narrative in a nutshell?
Jesus knows that rejection is part of the way life is, but its not the main point of the story, and so he coaches his followers on how to move on.
Here are three other things to notice about this story;
1. Jesus sends his seventy out in pairs.
He implicitly values companionship. From the beginning (Adam and Eve) human beings need company.
2. Jesus tells each traveling pair to enter the first house where they are welcomed and stay there. Why not “share the wealth” by staying at as many houses as you can and influencing as many as you can?
Maybe it has something to do with knowing that relationships take time to take root and grow. Germans sometimes say, Friendship is a plant we must often water.
By staying with someone, the disciples nurtured deeply rooted wisdom that their hosts could then plant as Kingdom seeds in their own community. God’s peace is to be cultivated over time and through deep relationship. .
3. Finally, notice how Jesus tells his followers to be open to what God will provide, instead of searching out what they think they ought to find.
Jesus tells them:
to receive what is given to them (eat),
to give what is given them to share (healing)
and to name what is happening and who is doing it (proclaim the reign of God is at hand)
In these friendships, God is building something,
the Kingdom is near.
Perhaps Aristotle was onto something when he wrote:
Friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies.”
The friendships God gives, true friendships, move us toward that Kingdom experience of sharing the one Soul of creation, which is God. In Syria it’s sometimes said that if you will tell me your friends, I’ll tell you who you are.
Biblical Proverbs describe a God who offers friendship in the form of wisdom, Wisdom created as God’s first work of long ago, Wisdom present as God’s delight seeing the heavens, waters, foundations of the earth, and finally, humanity come into being.
Wisdom embodied in God’s saving grace, Jesus Christ,
Wisdom that invites us to become part of God’s redemption of creation.
Go often to the house of they friend, for weeds choke the unused path. –Ralph Waldo Emerson
Loving God, we pray for the hot spots in your world this week, especially we wrap our loving thoughts around Egypt, and Syria, and The Nigerian community of Yobe as it mourns for its slain children. We thank you for compassionate hands and wise voices in these places, who remind us of your healing power and will.
We pray for strange and terrible events on our own continent
San Francisco, (plane crash)
Quebec Province (train fire)
Bangor (parade accident)
Arizona (19 lost)
Give rest and renewal to first responders.
Grant comfort to those who mourn and hope to those who will rebuild lives.
We pray for all who feel the impact of sequestration and for local communities seeking common ground and budgeting solutions.
To those who fears are ignited, bring peace.
To those with resources, give wisdom.
To all of us bring awareness of our role in your greater story. Hold us to account for what we do and don’t do. Form us in the image of your son and self, Jesus Christ, as we share the prayer he taught us.
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others
and sent them two by two ahead of him
to every town and place where he was about to go.
-- Luke 10.1
You do not just happen to be here,
you have been sent.
You are intended to be here,
to convey a presence.
The land of uncertainty and the unknown,
these are your territory.
You are sent not away
You are accompanied,
paired with one who goes with you.
It is not your success, but your love and courage
that fulfill your purpose.
The path will need you;
the journey will create you.
What we receive compels us,
and, not alone, we go.
-Steve Garnaas Holmes, 7-5-13
Karen L Munson
United Methodist Pastor & Liturgical Artist