13th Sunday of Pentecost – Sunday, Augsut 19, 2018

August 19, 2018  

Proverbs 9:1-6 and John 6:51-58 

 I get greedy when I have texts like this to preach on. I want to live in the text, to roll around in its meaning and savor every possibility. The book of Proverbs is a collection, a collation of thoughts, all explaining to its readers how we ought to live. And, when we are talking about how we ought to live, we are talking about morality. Which means we are talking about ethics. Proverbs is a textbook on ethics. Yeah!

Scholars believe the book of Proverbs was written as a textbook for wealthy young men. (See “Proverbs” in The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, vol. 3 or in The New Interpreter’s Bible, vol. 5). A scholar wrote

Prudent and moral behavior is the concern of Proverbs; it is a how-to book.
The skill it teaches is how to please God and live sensibly and well. Virtue
is not commended for its own sake; it is related to the will of God, and it leads to success…

            The book of Proverbs is a moral book and a fund of wisdom… human wisdom, the fruit of human experience—its distinction: that it relates sensible living inextricably with walking humbly. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, vol. 3, p. 940).

So what do we learn from Proverbs 9:1-6?

In this text we find Lady Wisdom preparing food and drink, preparing what seems to be an elaborate meal. Animals have been slaughtered. Wine has been mixed. The table has been set. The servants have been sent forth, calling out Lady Wisdom’s invitation: Turn in here! Come, eat of my bread, drink of my wine. Lay aside immaturity and live. Walk in the way of insight!

Wisdom’s “house” is the world, beyond the world, the cosmos! The food and drink she offers are the life-giving gifts of creation. (TNIB, vol. 5, p. 103). She promises: “Those who give up their foolish self-direction for love of Wisdom gain genuine life” (TNIB, vol. 5, p. 104).

Notice, the way of insight depends on who, on what we love. If we love Wisdom we “gain genuine life.” If we choose to love the opposite, known as folly in Proverbs, goodness is destroyed.

To paraphrase St. Augustine: Thus, though Wisdom was [herself] our home, [she] made [herself] also the way by which we should reach our home (as quoted in TNIB, vol. 5,p. 104).

To ask the question of morality, then, is to ask: how ought we live? How ought you live? How ought I live?

As Christians, we live according to Christ, who revealed the Wisdom of God in his own flesh and blood.

Jesus said “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them” (John 6:56).

We are invited to not only take and eat, take and drink, we are invited to LIVE in Jesus, to make our home in Jesus. And Jesus promises us Jesus will live in us.
When we eat the bread of life, living into the promises of Jesus Christ, we live into the promise of eternal life Jesus offers.

We live according to the Wisdom of Christ, which is the wisdom of love. We live love in our own lives, in our homes and in our neighborhoods; we live love in our cities and in our state. We present ourselves to the world as people living in love. God’s love. A love that is for us, but much more importantly is for the world. As such, it is a love that is never about us as much as it is about others.

Our morality is a morality of love. Our morality is a morality of God’s love. Our morality is a morality that leads us to serve others before self. Our morality is a morality of sacrifice because we are called to serve others as Christ has served us, because Christ has served us.

Sometimes it takes a lifetime to understand the way Christ calls us to live, to understand the sacrifices God calls us to make, to understand that life is not about self, but about other. Some may choose to never understand.
Those who do, those who hear Lady Wisdom’s invitation and choose to dine at her table, those who abide in Christ, choose to abide in everlasting love. Thanks be to God!
Amen.