‘Get Wisdom’ was preached by Gill Barnett at St John with St Mark’s Church on 19th August 2018. It’s based on Proverbs 9:1-6 and John 6:51-58.
I went to a party last night – a friend’s 60th. There was some preparation made by both those hosting and those going to the party – as you’d expect. The kitchen and dining room looked very different than usual with bottles and cartons, glasses and tumblers, chicken legs, pork pies, salads, trifle, a couple of cheesecakes and a very large birthday cake (no candles!!!). In another room there were bags and parcels of various shapes, all very glittery and all with ‘Dave’s’ name on them – they weren’t usually there. I’m sure you can imagine the scene. When you go to a party, you prepare. When you host a party you prepare.
Have you ever been to a party where the host has actually built the house for you, slaughtered the animals for the feast and made the wine? I’ve been pretty close – for those who know my recent neighbours – but not to the extent that this host goes to in our reading from Proverbs – this is serious preparation.
So who is the host of this feast that we read about today? It’s Wisdom, traditionally referred to as female but not one who follows a traditionally female role. In preparing for this feast, Wisdom builds her house – a perfect place supported by 7 pillars, a Biblical reference for completeness or wholeness, perfection – the perfect party venue; she slaughters her animals – not a task associated with life-bearing, because this woman is different.
We read a little earlier in Proverbs about Wisdom, “The Lord created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of long ago … when he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside him, like a master worker…” ~Proverbs 8:22, 29b-30. Wisdom had a hand in creation – so this party we’re reading about is going to have a very high spec, it’s going to be something very different.
The host is prepared – the perfect venue with home-produced wine and food – so what about the guests? Who are they? Well, it seems that just about anyone is invited: “(Wisdom) sends out her servant girls, she calls from the highest places in the town… Come eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed…” It seems that whoever hears the invitation is invited. They don’t have to be like the host – refined, talented, rich, wise. In fact Wisdom calls those who think themselves simple, without sense, immature.
What are the parallels with our gospel reading?
- I came down from heaven
- I’m the living bread
- I give my flesh for the life of the world
- My flesh is true food
- My blood is true drink
Wisdom says, “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Lay aside immaturity, and live, and walk in the way of insight.”
Jesus says, “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day … whoever eats me will live because of me.”
We come to the feast simple and unprepared and, instead of giving gifts, we are given the greatest gift imaginable. Paul then tells us to “be careful how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time.”
Make the most of time
Making the most of the time – what does that mean? Can’t we just stay sitting at this perfect feast and revelling in the company we find there; basking in good food, fine wine and entertaining company? Is that making a wise decision, making the most of the time? I don’t think so.
Wisdom says, “lay aside immaturity, and live, and walk in the way of insight.” That implies to me getting up and leaving the table, going back to where you were called from and sharing the invitation. The seats at this table will never be full! This is a perfect party from which no-one will be turned away once they respond. Eat and drink and be, as our post communion prayer says, made whole in Christ, (and) bring that healing to this broken world, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
- LASB commentary