Zachary Baker Rodes
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.
The Old Testament passage from today’s daily office comes to us from the Wisdom of Solomon. If you’ve never delved into the Wisdom literature of the Bible (Job, Proverbs, Wisdom, and Ecclesiasticus), I urge you to do so. Wisdom literature is later writings of the Israelite people, usually written after the Babylonian exile. Wisdom, for the Israelites, is about steering life, the legacy of parents to their children, knowledge of experienced ones, and the quest of Israel for self-understanding and mastery of the world around them.
Today’s reading extends to verse 23, but I only wish to highlight verses 12-16. Here Wisdom is something that we seek but also makes herself known to us, as long as we seek her. But she is also seeking those who are “worthy of her”. In other words, she meets us half-way. Wisdom loves to teach and wishes to do so, but that can only happen when we are willing to be taught. To love Wisdom is to know her and to know her we must find her as she searches for us. Leaning into our relationship with God then becomes an exercise with Wisdom. Wisdom does come from sitting around. Through prayer and through action as Christians we are exposed to the wisdom that God is trying to part with us so that we may “be free from care”.
In the Book of Common Prayer, there is a special collect for Fridays.
whose most dear Son went not up to joy
but first he suffered pain,
and entered not into glory before he was crucified:
Mercifully grant that we,
walking in the way of the cross,
may find it none other than the way of life and peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I love this collect because it reminds us on every Friday, not just on Good Friday, of Jesus’s loving sacrifice for us, a sacrifice that sent him to the cross before he ascended into heaven. Jesus did not skip out on the hard parts of being human; he faced pain, suffering, and death in order to save the world from sin.
We live every day in a world still troubled by sin and because of that, we also walk in the way of the cross. But because we know that Jesus has gone before us and has conquered sin and death for us, we can find life and peace along the way.
Rev. Charles Hoffacker
Although much work remains to be done, relations have improved substantially between many Christian churches and the Jewish community in recent decades. Part of this change is due to the widespread abandonment of supersessionism, a belief held by some Christians that the Church’s covenant with God in Christ means that the covenant of the Jewish people with the one eternal God has been rendered obsolete. Another name for this belief is replacement theology.
In 1988, the bishops of the worldwide Anglican Communion met for the Lambeth Conference, an advisory gathering held every decade. One Conference document, “Jews, Christians, and Muslims: The Way of Dialogue” contains this paragraph (#16) about God’s irrevocable call of the Jewish people:
“Christians and Jews share a passionate belief in a God of loving kindness who has called us into relationship with himself. God is faithful and he does not abandon those he calls. We firmly reject any view of Judaism which sees it as a living fossil, simply superseded by Christianity. When Paul reflects on the mystery of the continued existence of the Jewish people (Romans 9-11) a full half of his message is the unequivocal proclamation of God’s abiding love for those whom he first called. Thus he wrote ‘God’s choice stands and they are his friends for the sake of the patriarchs. For the gracious gifts of God and his calling are irrevocable’ (Romans 11:28-30).
The Rev. Charles Hoffacker is a retired priest of the Diocese of Washington