Two Rivers Pastoral Charge
Sunday June 12, 2022 – Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31
Who is the wisest person you know? Is there someone in your life, someone you have met, even someone you have heard of who embodies wisdom?
Thinking about wisdom, it is interesting to ponder the difference between knowledge and wisdom. Someone with a lot of knowledge knows a lot of things. They may be an expert in a particular field, or they may know a lot about a wide variety of things. But someone who is wise is able to take that knowledge and combine it with lived experience and a dash of common sense, and then apply it in order to be able to live well.
Thinking about the movies, a character like Yoda is wise, whereas the mad scientist archetype generally has knowledge but not wisdom – think of someone like Dr. Frankenstein who had the knowledge to be able to create a human, but he lacked the wisdom to realize that this was a very bad idea. Or Doc from the Back to the Future movies who had enough knowledge to be able to travel through time, but who didn’t have the wisdom to keep him from making all sorts of silly mistakes along the way. In both of these examples, the mad scientist’s lack of wisdom is necessary to push the plot forward. Wise characters generally don’t make good main characters since they tend not to have very exciting plot lines!
Wisdom in the bible is all about living a good life – living well with God and living well with your neighbours. Wisdom in the bible can be shared in the hopes of saving another person from the sometimes painful process of lived experience that can result in wisdom.
And wisdom in the bible is personified. She doesn’t have a name, though because the Greek word for wisdom is “sophia” she is sometimes called Sophia. Woman Wisdom in the book of Proverbs isn’t some sweet demure submissive woman sitting at home tending the fire and raising her children. No – Woman Wisdom is out in the streets, at the crossroads, at the gates of the town, shouting to anyone who will listen to her. She cries out, trying to convince people to follow her voice, persuading them that wisdom is a better path to follow than folly. It may be more exciting in the short term to follow folly, but in the long term, a life of wisdom, of living well with God and living well with neighbour – that is the good path to follow.
And who is this Woman Wisdom? She was the first piece of creation, created by God before any other thing. She was with God when God began to create the heavens and the earth. She witnessed the formation of the mountains and the skies and the oceans. She worked alongside God as a master worker, bringing creation in to being.
As we talked about earlier, today is Trinity Sunday, the day when we especially celebrate God as Trinity – Three-in-One and One-in-Three. And so I have to ask the question, how does Woman Wisdom fit in to the Trinity?
But unfortunately I don’t have a good answer to that. I’ve got lots of ideas, but no solid answers.
Woman Wisdom was with God before any other created thing, before God began to create the heavens and the earth. Before the beginning, the Holy Spirit moved, hovered, danced over the waters.
Woman Wisdom worked alongside God as together they created the heavens and the earth. God spoke, and by God’s Word all of creation came in to being; God’s Word who is the Christ.
And so is Woman Wisdom the same as Christ, the second person of the Trinity? Or is Woman Wisdom the same as the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity?
And yet Woman Wisdom tells us that she was the first thing that God created, while the theology of the Trinity tells us that all three persons of the Trinity are God and therefore not created.
The more I think about it, the more muddled my brain becomes.
And yet even as my brain feels muddled, I wonder if then I am maybe closer to the mystery of the Trinity than I am at any other time. For the Trinity is mystery – Holy Mystery that is to be contemplated rather than understood. Which means that the more that I think that I understand the Trinity, the further I probably am from God!
So Woman Wisdom, even if she isn’t God, is very closely connected with God. She delights in God and she delights in all that God has created.
And when we are living our lives with wisdom – when we are living a good life – then we are delighting in God and we are delighting in all that God has created. We are delighting in the mountains and the rivers and the ocean. We are delighting in the rocks and the birds and the trees. We are delighting with every breath that we take. We are delighting when the sun is shining on our faces, and when the rain falls on our heads, and even when we are out shovelling the snow that has fallen. We are delighting in each and every human being we meet, recognizing that every person on this earth is created in the image of their Creator. When we are living with wisdom, we take delight in all that God has created, just as Woman Wisdom does.
And part of delighting in creation has to be living with respect in creation – honouring each and every member of the community of creation, as all of us have been created by a loving God.
And so rather than trying to puzzle out who Woman Wisdom is, rather than trying to puzzle out how Woman Wisdom fits into the Trinity, instead I think that the better response might be to live with wisdom. Rather than thinking about wisdom, isn’t it better to do wisdom, to live wisely?! And may our ears be open to hear the voice of Woman Wisdom so that we can delight in God and rejoice in all of God’s creation each and every day. Amen.
Detail from Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam
Note the female figure under the arm of God
Woman Wisdom was with God as God created