“Does not wisdom call, and 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 out: ‘To you, O people, I call, and my cry is to all that live.’” – Proverbs 8:1-4
When I was much younger I worked as an interpreter. My office was located in the middle of the backseat of our family car. My mom typically rode in the front passenger seat. She had some difficulty hearing. My dad, the driver, had a habit of mumbling.
As you can imagine the two feet between them could become a canyon of misunderstanding.
Dad, “I’m going to pull over here for a bathroom”
Mom, “We don’t need cashews, I brought snacks.”
Dad, “Cashews, that sounds good. You have cashews?”
Mom, “No, but let’s pull over here so I can get some from the ATM”
It was entertaining, maddening, and training. Listening is a core practice for a minister and it’s an essential skill for any person of faith.
From Genesis 1 to the first chapter of the Gospel of John, our scriptures repeatedly affirm the voice of God and the creative power of God’s word. While some may imagine God’s voice as booming, or deeply soothing the scripture testimony is much broader. The scriptures talk about the voice of God heard in a whisper, the truth of God spoken by a child, or the message of God conveyed by a beast of burden. In Proverbs 8 we hear the voice of lady wisdom.
The call of Sophia in Proverbs 8 sounds very similar to God’s call in Deuteronomy 30:19-20, “I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” The divine invitation, the Holy Spirit’s comfort, Christ’s instruction, it can come to us in a variety of ways. The certainty is that God speaks.
For a number of years, the United Church of Christ promoted the, “God is still speaking” campaign. This affirmation was built upon the wisdom of a comedian.
The story goes that after Gracie Allen’s death, her husband George Burns was sorting through her papers and trying to get matters in order. On her desk, amongst the papers, he found an envelope addressed to him. Inside the envelope there was a note that read, “George, never place a period where God places a comma.”
If we believe that the Holy One creates with a word, redeems with the word, and is in fact still speaking, then that leaves us with a very specific and important task.
What does wisdom sound like? Proverbs 8 describes wisdom as well versed in history, filled with joy, and close to God. Perhaps we would do well to listen for wisdom in such people. People who know their history and who have held on to their joy are surely people who know what it means to hope.
Holy One, call out to us. Speak to us through those who are close to you. Deepen our understanding by those who know the histories that we inhabit. And lighten our hearts with the hope of the joyful. Holy Spirit give us the strength to respond to wisdom’s call. -Amen.