Wisdom. To do the "wise thing…" we say.
Isn’t that what we all want?
From the day you were born – Alyssa, Peter, Adam and Claire – this is likely what your parents and grandparents have always wanted and wished – and probably also worried about -- for you: that as you grow older and live your lives, that you be wise, and make wise choices.
In the first couple of chapters in the book of Proverbs in the Old Testament, we read how “Wisdom” had been there since the beginning of time, along with God at the creation of the world thousands and thousands of years ago…
…and that still today, Wisdom continues to call out to us, and is there for us to have, if only we’d seek it, yearn for it, and value it above all else.
Just recently President Barack Obama in a commencement speech at Rutledge University said this:
“In politics and in life, ignorance is not a virtue.”
And he went on to say: “It’s NOT cool to NOT know what you’re talking about.”
And so, as much as possible, we want to know what we’re talking about.
So we learn more about social studies, governance, geography, science, math, art and history.
We read about religion and spirituality. We go to confirmation class. We take a seminary course.
We adopt an open posture to the world, this big, wide, expansive universe that God created at the beginning of time, always asking questions, using our rational capacities, exploring, searching, seeking understanding.
What new thing is there for me to learn today? we ask.
And yet, having wisdom is also the ability to say: “I don’t know.”
To acknowledge that we do not know everything, and will likely never know all there is to know about creation and the universe.
That humble posture of acknowledging that others may indeed know more than I do about a certain topic…. and being OK with that.
It’s about seeking to know more, while at the same time, realizing, we’ll never know everything there is to know.
I like what Niels Bohr said. He was a Danish physicist who was a major contributor to quantum physics and nuclear fission.
He said that the universe is “not only stranger than we think, but stranger than we can think.”
The universe, or reality as God created it, is always beyond us, beyond even our mental capacity to fully comprehend.
When I was very young, my dad introduced to me a curiosity, a fascination, about outer space.
Through those early shows and movies long ago, like Star Trek and Star Wars, my interest and imagination has been stoked, and I’ve always been held captive to questions such as whether or not there’s life beyond our own earth, and beyond our own galaxy.
I heard about a group of UFO watchers in Sweden.
Now, these are not “crazy” people, nor are they extreme or fanatical.
They have regular jobs. They’re for the most part, ordinary, rational-thinking, good citizens.
And they expect, in fact they assume, that almost everything they hear of as `strange’ will have some completely normal, rational explanation.
Maybe the suspected UFO is really a weather balloon, or eyes playing tricks on people watching the angle of the sun’s rays on cloud formations, or sightings of Venus, or Jupiter or the Space Station fooling people.
These UFO watchers are not conspiracy theorists or folks who believe in little green men from Mars.
But, as one of them says: “It would be a sad life, if there weren’t things out there, that we might someday understand, but we don’t quite understand yet. There are more mysteries in life than we realize….”
The mysteries of life. The mystery of God.
Ultimately, in all our seeking understanding and learning, there comes a point, when even those of us who’ve amassed an impressive amount of knowledge and facts about the world, need to stop and pause, before Mystery. The Unknown. In awe, and wonder.
We stop and pause before God, realizing that we are indeed creatures, and God is the Creator who alone knows all things, more than we can ever know.
T.S. Eliot the great poet put it this way:
“You are not here to verify, instruct yourself,
or inform curiosity or carry report.
You are here to kneel.”
We are here to kneel.
We today, as a congregation, and those of you affirming your baptism, come together to kneel.
To kneel before the great and awesome God who came to us in Jesus, to show us the wise path forward: A path leading NOT to ultimate knowledge of all things, but rather, a path that leads to action, to doing, to practical, ordinary actions of loving service and care toward others.
It’s a path that leads to doing the wise things, even before we may fully understand the wise things.
Following in the way of Jesus.
Worshipping the Holy One.
Acting compassionately, fairly and lovingly toward others.
Speaking the truth in love.
I was moved by an act of deep self-giving love.
This is a true story about Marie, in Atlanta, who donated her kidney to Matthew, an 18-month-old baby boy.
Matthew was born without kidney function.
And so, Marie underwent surgery to donate one of her kidneys to this little boy, whom she barely even knew… through a friend of a friend.
That’s remarkable enough; this self-giving love.
But what was even more remarkable, was that the problem that caused Matthew to not have kidney function, was detected prior to his birth.
The obstetrician was already full of warnings to the mother as to the immensity of needs and challenges to Matthew and the family following his birth – getting a new kidney as soon as possible being one of them.
The doctor even hinted at the option for terminating the pregnancy.
But the mom decided to carry on, and give birth to Matthew.
Today, Matthew, his mom, and Marie the donor, are all doing well.
Matthew has life. All because of the extraordinary act of generosity, of self-giving love, this impulse to serve others.
God’s love is a self-giving love …. Where you give yourself away for the wellbeing of others.
This is the adventure, the journey, which you four are embarking on from this day onward…
…to join the rest of us on our collective journey,
… to live out our baptized lives,
…trying to follow the way of Jesus,
….to choose the wiser paths,
…and to pray for the wisdom and strength to do so.
And God, who is gracious and merciful, and abounding in steadfast love, will help us.