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Download a full version of Dr. Weller's Sermon from August 09, 2009

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    A Sermon SCript


    In a conversation I had with a fellow pastor recently I shared that I would be preaching this Sunday… to which his reply was Ughhk… Trinity Sunday. Ughhk, kind of a guteral thing… The sound of muffy coughing up a fur ball. Ughkk, Trinity Sunday. I smiled, not wanting to hurt his feelings. But my inner dialogue when the invitation came a month or so ago from Edward to preach on this Sunday was “WOW!” Trinity Sunday!

    It’s a matter of perspective, I think. If you’re a person who believes in perfect order and are comfortable only when every thought is nailed down with only one right answer… if you’re a person ill at ease with ambiguity or heaven forbid new thought… then this thing called Trinity Sunday – when the topic of the day is no less than – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – Ughhk may be the perfect response… because how on earth (or even in heaven) can anyone do justice to such a Trinity in a 20 minute sermon --

    On the other hand, people who are intrigued with ambiguity, and see any statement of fact wide open for different possible interpretations and nuances… people who are not afraid of questions… and feel no compulsion to tie anything down… then this thing called Trinity Sunday – when the topic of the day is no less than – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – WOW! Can you imagine, just imagine what faithfully asked faith questions might arise… and what God might be ready to work in a people willing to turn to Him for a fresh breath Spirit, which I am sure you learned last week, Pentecost, is blowing through Christ’s church. SO… Ughhk or Wow… you know which one you are. [This is strictly an aside – but Ughhk’s are usually married to Wow!s – but that’s a whole other sermon]

    In WOW fashion, I’ve chosen today’s reading from Proverbs as our text for the morning. Most people think they know what’s in the Book of Proverbs… a nice collection of pithy two-liners… “wisdom” with which to live your life. “Better a dry morsel with quiet than a house of feasting with strife.” OR “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a downcast Spirit, dries the bones.” But often people throw in a Benjamin Franklin… “God helps those who help themselves.” – some will attribute that to our Book of Proverbs – trust me its not there.

    And there are, literally hundreds of sayings in Proverbs… but not until the author has spent nine long chapters setting the stage and giving hints at how to listen to and absorb what is to come. Nine chapters… which are likely the least read nine chapters in all of Scripture, because its not easy to understand. Because it raises more questions than it answers. It makes some uncomfortable. 

    It gives voice to paradox and mystery. And from these chapters we’ve been given our lesson which begins: “Does not Wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights along the way she takes her stand… besides the gates leading to the city… at the entrances she cries aloud. “To you, o men, I call out. I raise my voice to all mankind.”

    Our text introduces us to this personification of Wisdom, a woman who stands in the most public place of the city, at the crossroads… the city gate… and proclaims a teaching that is for all people… everyone… all who live. Eugene Peterson in his paraphrase of the Bible called the Message – writes those opening verses this way: “She’s taken her stand at First and Main, at the busiest intersection… where traffic is thickest and she shouts: “You, I’m talking to all of you!”

    But why, we might wonder, ought we to listen to Woman Wisdom whom we barely recognize? And what is she doing in our lectionary readings for Trinity Sunday? I’m not remembering any women in the Trinity, are you?

    Scholars have spilled almost as much ink, as the BP oil now escaping in the Gulf of Mexico… on precisely WHOM this Wisdom figure is. Some have deemed her a personification of Holy Spirit - with God, at the beginning of creation. Others have seen in her the very nature of Christ; one in whom God delights. I came across a new understanding just this week in my study, which says that Wisdom is that which links the Trinity, Father – Son and Spirit one to another. It’s the community of the Godhead… what holds the Trinity in unity.

    We will not solve the identity of Woman Wisdom, this morning, but in our brief time, we might look at what our passage tells us about her… and begin to reflect on those images and ideas with God’s help… that we might better understand this One worthy of nine chapters in our Scriptures – who we rarely speak of – yet who has found her way into our lectionary reading for today.

    If we lay aside her identity for a moment… of first importance is that her message is to everyone. Verse 4 as we noted earlier says “to all mankind.” The message that Wisdom will convey is not to a person, or even a nation; but to all people of all time. Her message is Universal in its scope. Precisely why it is to be trusted follows in the next sequential verses: she speaks what is right… detesting wickedness, speech that is just, nothing crooked or perverse, thoughts and ideas faultless to those who have knowledge. Surely there is not one thing said of the personification of Wisdom, which is not also true of Father, Son and Spirit.

    What we find next is Wisdom’s place in creation. From Verse 22: The Lord brought me forth as the first of His works before His deeds of old. I was appointed from eternity from the beginning before the world began. When there were no oceans, I was given birth… when there were no springs I was abounding with water… Wisdom was with God in the beginning. 

    This section of our reading goes on to describe how Wisdom was the craftsman at God’s side when God marked the foundations of the earth. With God from before all else was created. Knowing the boundaries of light and dark, horizons and deep. Our reading ends with an exhortation to listen to Wisdom, for to listen is to be blessed… those who listen and find wisdom gain life and receive God’s favor. Promises that will be echoed in the New Testament, of someone this Old Testament writer knew nothing. 

    As I read and re-read, studied and meditated on the passage before us on this Trinity Sunday, I was reminded of again and again of God’s mystical nature and the mystery that surrounds Him. And that when we get to the end of saying or telling everything we know about God… we are still no where close to Who God is, or the nature of His being. The longer I sat with and wondered and pondered and prayed … rather than answers, I had more questions; but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Because if I say nothing else that you remember on this Trinity Sunday, what I hope you’ll hear is that God is more; God is bigger.

    God is greater than any thought you’ve had, or have yet to have. Any answer you’ve clung to is like dust, because God’s desire is not that we live a life of faithful answers… but faithful pursuit. God’s is not interested in the teachings of the stalwart Pharisee. God desires a relationship with us, a daily coming and sitting, listening and learning, then practicing all we learn from being in His Ineffable Presence. That the Church through the ages has continued to celebrate this Trinity which the best of our scholars only has a theory about… only proves that the answers aren’t as important as sitting with Him in the questions.

    I’m reminded just now of a line in a hymn that says: “and nothing I desire compares with You.” If asked the question, what do you desire… each of us, baptized in water – sealed by the spirit, should have but one answer: “we desire to know God.” And the path of that knowing… the one who leads us is Woman Wisdom. WOW. 

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