Sunday, June 15, 2014

Do you long to be wise?

CHRIST, THE WISDOM OF GOD

Does not wisdom call?  Does not understanding raise her voice?  On the heights beside the way, at the crossroads, she takes her stand; beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries aloud:  To you, O men, I call, and my cry is to the children of man.  Proverbs 8:1-4

THE word wisdom means that all things are working as God intended.  When rivers flow into the sea, when the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, when men fear, love and trust in God above all things, there is wisdom.

The first crack in the dam, the one that set all other things out of order, was not the sin of the creation, but the sin of Adam.  That is not the way God made things to work.  He did not fashion men to rebel against Him, or to dance with the devil, but to live in perfect harmony with their True Father.

In Proverbs chapter eight, Solomon The Wise gives us a divinely inspired poem in which wisdom is personified as a "master workman."  In it he tells us that before earth's beginning there was Wisdom.  Without it, there would be no creation.  Without it Moses would not have been able to write, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."  Neither could St. John have written, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

What Solomon personified in a song, God personified in the flesh.  The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, Christ the power of God and the Wisdom of God.  He is the Master Workman who did the work of God, who restored fallen creation, reconciled it to the Father and who makes all things New by His death and by His mighty resurrection from the grave.

The preaching of the cross is folly to the world, but to us who are saved, it is the power of God, for on the cross we see our sins paid for, and as they are dissolved, the judgment, guilt, shame and condemnation that accompany them, vanishes.  The fear of death fades away.  It is a miracle to be sure, and a greater miracle yet that we should trust what our eyes cannot see, and believe what our hearts cannot comprehend, namely the breadth and length and height and depth of Christ's love for us.

The created world hears its Lord's voice and responds to His every command.  In the words of Reginald Heber's famous hymn, "only man is vile" (TLH #495).   It is to us, to people, each an infinite miracle of God's design, each of infinite value to God, that Wisdom cries out loud and long -- very loud and very long -- to interrupt our tunnel vision which is locked only on this short life, the desires of the moment and on licking the many wounds that life deals out; to pierce the auditory exclusion of our sinful hearts which hear only the devil's voice spoken by the lips of fellow sinners.  No other proclamation than the cross can save us from ourselves, save us from our sins, but this declaration does!  This voice does!   It is the voice of Jesus, the voice of the Good Shepherd, the voice of Wisdom Incarnate, of the great "I AM," heard in the church.  It is the voice of our Lord that will open all graves on the last day and will share His glory with us; the voice that says to us, "If any one keeps my word he will never taste death"; the voice that cries out to you, "take and eat, take and drink for the remission of your sins."  Yes, we still need that!  Of a truth, there is nothing we need more than to be daily cleansed of the sins which so easily plague us, and to be guided in the ways of Wisdom.

As Lutherans we talk about sin the singular and sin the plural.  Sin in the singular, called original sin, is the congenital disease of the heart we inherit from our parents.  It is a terminal illness and the source of every destructive thought, word and action that our Old Man is so addicted to: the anger, lust, greed, gluttony and worst of all, the self-righteousness that blinds us to all of our wrongs, making us the greatest fools of all.  We are cleansed from these when we are baptized into the name of the Triune God.  It is the Name that covers all of our sins, that draws us to the church, the Word of God, to absolution, prayer and to the altar where we receive the true body and blood of Christ for life and salvation.  Don't ask how that can be.  It is a miracle that no one can explain.  The Christian religion does not ask us to have blind faith.  Indeed to our enlightened reason all that God proclaims in holy scripture makes perfect sense.  All the pieces fit, but there are some things we will never comprehend, like the Eucharist, like the Trinity, until we see our true Father face to face.  Then we will see.  It will be a life-altering experience.

We also need to learn the ways of Wisdom.  They are taught perfectly in holy Scripture.  We can only see the beginning of wisdom now, only the tiniest tip of largest iceberg the seas have ever produced, but what we see is beautiful!  For now wisdom consists of two things.  First: faith that Jesus is our one and only savior; that He is our wisdom and righteousness, our sanctification and redemption and there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.  Second: to know that what is true and right, coupled with the power to carry it out.  We have that.

We are not helpless pawns of the devil.  We are not spiritual paralytics.  We must never live as frightened, insecure, cowering children.  We are God's people who possess God's Spirit.  As such we have the knowledge and the power to cast off the works of darkness, to put on the armor of light, to put on the Lord Jesus Christ, to dine at Wisdom's table, and to live our lives with confidence and joy; to love God with our whole strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.   This is the gift we receive on Trinity Sunday from the Father, who sends us the Spirit in Jesus name.  Amen.

~ Rev. Dean Kavouras

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