“In Pursuit of Wisdom”
A Joint Reflection
Rev’d. Tanya Stormo Rasmussen with the congregation
Rocky Pond Service
(Meetinghouse in case of rain)
16 June 2019
Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31
Helpful expository notes from SALT Project:
1) This Sunday is often celebrated as “Trinity Sunday,” an opportunity to intentionally reflect on one of Christianity’s most important (and baffling!) ideas.
What can you say about the Trinity?
(What do you know, what do you appreciate,
what is interesting to you about the Trinity?)
2) The ancient doctrine of the Trinity arose out of early Christian reflection on scripture, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. For his earliest followers, encountering Jesus was somehow encountering God directly – and at the same time, Jesus spoke of God as both distinct from him (as when he prayed to God, or spoke of God as the One who sent him) and yet nevertheless “one” with him. There was both a “two-ness” and a “oneness” in play, and so Christians sought out ways to express this mystery with poetry and precision.
Likewise, early disciples experienced encounters with the Spirit as encounters with God directly – and at the same time, Jesus spoke of the Spirit as a guiding, challenging presence distinct both from him and from the One to whom he prayed. And, so arose, over time, the church’s doctrine of the Trinity: the idea that God is properly conceived as both Three and One. Not three Gods; that would miss God’s oneness. And not merely One, because that would miss God’s three-ness, and wouldn’t do justice to the sense of encountering God in Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
3) Changing gears for a moment (though I hope by the end of this), you will understand how it’s all connected: Tell me about the wisest person you know. What is it, do you think, that makes them wise? How is wisdom different from knowledge or intellect?
4) Our Scripture reading this morning helps us to think about Wisdom, who is personified as a woman in the Old Testament. You’ve heard me say it before, the Holy Spirit is, too—the Ruach Elohim (or Breath of God). Since the mature doctrine emerges out of the first two or three centuries of the church’s reflection, the author(s) of Proverbs probably did not have the Trinity in mind as he wrote this passage.
As the Scripture passage is read, listen and/or look for new insights into your understanding of Wisdom—and to the connection of Wisdom to the Trinity: What do you notice, what captures your attention, what inspires you to learn more about wisdom – perhaps even to pursue wisdom more urgently in your daily practice?
What do you notice, what captures your attention, what inspires you to learn more about wisdom – and perhaps even to pursue it more urgently in your daily practice?
1) Vs. 1-3: Wisdom has a commanding voice, and tries to speak from strategic places to every living person. (“On the heights, beside the way, at the crossroads…beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance…”)
2) Vs. 22-23ff: Wisdom was there from before the foundations of the earth; Wisdom was there when everything came into being. (Relationship to the Trinity: to pursue wisdom is to pursue a deeper understanding of God.)
2) Vs. 30: Wisdom was “daily [the Creator’s] delight”, and rejoicing in the created world, and (vs. 31) delighting in the human race. Think for a moment about the people you delight in being with—and the experience of knowing that you are the delight of another. How does that help you understand wisdom better, what does that say of her appeal?
3) Look at verses 4-21 to get a picture of what wisdom values, and how she behaves. What stands out to you?
4) Why do you think it’s important for us to reflect on the subject of Wisdom on a Sunday morning? What do you think you might be able to continue pondering, as you (hopefully) pursue deeper wisdom—a closer connection with God—more intentionally across the coming week?
5) As you think about the people, places, and sources of information or input (the media or communities, etc.) that you interact with across a typical week: are they reliable sources of wisdom? If not, does it or should it make a difference in how you prioritize your time with those activities or individuals?