Happy (belated) Memorial Day everyone! We were supposed to worship outdoors on our Ministerial Grounds, but actually got “rained in”. Because I thought we were going to be outside, I decided to sing more, preach less. We read all four lectionary scriptures, sang a few extra hymns and I cut my sermon down. I was bummed that we had to come inside, but I knew it was for the best.
Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31
To Love And To Care For
Happy Memorial Day, everyone!
Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Mulhern Granholm once said, “Ceremonies are important. But our gratitude has to be more than visits to the troops, and once-a-year Memorial Day ceremonies. We honor the dead best by treating the living well.”
The passages that we just heard read from the Old Testament remind us of a sentiment similar to Governor Granholm’s. “[Lord] you have given [human beings] dominion over the works of your hands,” the Psalmist says to us, reminding that in creation we are called to care for the world that we live in. “You have made them a little lower than God,” the Psalmist writes, “and crowned them with glory and honor.”
God gave to human beings dominion over creation, but at the core of that dominion is also an obligation to care for that creation, to care for one another.
In this morning’s passage from the Book of Proverbs we are introduced to Wisdom, a feminine character that speaks as an individual entity. Wisdom often personifies an attribute of God – she cannot be separated God’s being.
Wisdom was a witness to creation; she delights in the glory of creation. “Then I was beside him” she speaks, “like a master worker; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always.’ Wisdom rejoices in creation, and also rejoices in who we are as humans. “[I rejoice] in his inhabited world and [delight] in the human race,” Wisdom says.
Wisdom reminds us that we, too, can be a witness to the glory of creation. We, too, can rejoice in the beauty that surrounds us, both in all of creation and within humanity. We, too, can stand in relationship with God and marvel at the world that God has created and that we are living in.
Wisdom invites us to join her in her enchantment; she is everywhere – “on the heights, beside the way, at the crossroads … beside the gates … at the entrance of the portals” – beckoning us to come! Come – and rejoice with her!
We can come; we can come and respond to God’s call to first and foremost care for God’s creation. We can love the people around us, even when we may not like them. We can reach out our arms in compassion and in service, even if it makes us uncomfortable. We can embody Christ in our lives and in our ministries. We can, as Governor Granholm suggested, honor those who have come before us by treating those around us well.
This is not always easy. While Wisdom delights in what God has done to carefully create us, we know realistically that we, as human beings, part of this creation, do not always get along. We know that we are very different from one another; that sometimes we disagree, that we do not always like each other and that we often fight when we should seek peace.
As Christians we all know that we are called to be Christ-like in our words and in our actions. I think many of us, however, often want to go back in time and say to Jesus, “I know I should be more like you, but you never had to deal with [insert annoying person in my life here]!”
And this is where Jesus gives us a gift.
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now,” Jesus says in our reading from this morning’s Gospel. “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.”
Jesus knew that his earthly life would eventually come to an end, but he promised us the sustaining presence of the Holy Spirit within our lives. The Holy Spirit, Jesus assures us, will give us strength in those moments of weakness, love in those moments of hatred and compassion in those moments of frustration. The Holy Spirit will strengthen us as we strive to treat those around us well.
And in Paul’s letter to church in Rome he celebrates the arrival of this gift into our lives. “Therefore, since we are justified by faith,” Paul writes, “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ … and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”
Close your eyes and imagine God’s love being poured into your heart. Do you feel stronger? Does your heart feel softer? Does your love feel greater?
Wisdom beckons us to come! Come and delight in creation; come and care for creation; and come and honor all creation, creation that has come before us, creation that lives today and creation that is still to come.
On this Memorial Day weekend, let us heed that call. Let us feel the Holy Spirit filling us with God’s love and truly honor those who have lost their lives by living lives that are worthy of that service. Let us feel the Holy Spirit working in our lives. Let us be the people Christ calls us to be. Let us come and be the creation that Wisdom delights in.
Thanks be to God!