Sermon for 22 Nov 2020

Sermon – Enlightenment and Wisdom

Paul says: I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope.
I like to fact check. I like to check and see if the information someone states is actually true. It is not that easy in today’s world but it is interesting to see the differences.
During the Afghan war I had a contact in Germany. The account of the war was entirely different in Germany than it was here.
Sometimes the discrepancy is obvious
I heard recently that Stalin had been sighted in Brazil a few weeks ago. Stalin would be 142 years old this year. Somehow I have doubts
Last week I was looking at illustrations about this passage of scripture from Ephesians. I ran across a story about a Prince in Grenada who had been locked away in a horrible prison for 33 years until he died. The prison was called the “Place of the Skull” because no one ever came out alive. The only book he was allowed was the bible. As you can imagine he read it hundreds of times.
What was interesting is the account of his reading. Apparently he wrote on the sandstone wall with a nail. He wrote facts about the bible. Some of those facts were that:
Psalm 118:8 is the middle verse of the Bible;
Ezra 7:21 contains all the letters of the alphabet except the letter J; and the 9th verse of the 8th chapter of Esther is the longest verse in the Bible.
There were other facts but this is where the difference appears.
The first story is by an evangelical preacher in the states who had a narrow view of the requirements for salvation. He claimed that the Prince wasted his life because he never got to the part where he was to turn his life over to Jesus. .
The second account is simply by a historian who recorded all the writings on the wall. He agrees about the passages already quoted but goes on with more information. The historian says that the Prince writes that everyone should read certain passages that talk about how to live this life and get along with people. Often it says if you turn to God you will find comfort for your difficulties.
The evangelical preacher claims that the Prince never reached salvation. After reading the historical account I would say that the Prince may never have reached the preachers definition of salvation but he did reach wisdom and enlightenment.
Paul in this passage encourages us to reach wisdom and enlightenment.
Wisdom was a critical part of the Greek culture. As far back as the 6thcentury BC the Greeks were heavily involved with the pursuit of philosophy. Some of their understandings came from the ancient near-east. When the Romans captured Greece then wisdom and philosophy became a large part of the Roman world also.
Philosophywas used to make sense out of the world by using reason. It dealt with a wide variety of subjects, including astronomy, mathematics, political philosophy, ethics, metaphysics, logic, biology, rhetoricand aesthetics.
In the Old Testament, wisdom has the name of Sophia. Sophia was the partner of God in the creation process often interchanged with Logos or the Word of God. (By the way Sofia was the most popular girl’s name from 2011 to 2013 and also the name of the new humanoid robot.) Wisdom
When Jesus was preaching he was hugely influenced by both these.
Into that we add Jesus unique relation with God.
Some will say that Paul was referring to the wisdom only found in the New Testament. The problem with that is that the New Testament had not been written by that time.
Some will say that we should not pay attention to any wisdom that is not in the bible because it doesn’t come from God but I believe that all knowledge and wisdom comes from God. Some people will say that certain wisdom doesn’t come from God because it doesn’t match their needs, but I think all wisdom comes from God and we have to grow in our understanding.
The church had trouble with Galileo’s theory that the earth was not the center of the universe. Some said his idea came from some devil. Now we look back at it and realize that it was valid, just different.
What we need to do is temper our wisdom with the filter of love.
We are constantly discovering new information and new ideas. We are constantly finding new ways to both save and destroy the world we live in.
We need to raise these ideas up in the light of God.
There was a neat story recently which is similar to an old children’s story about an airplane and a rat, but this one is about an eagle and a crow. The crow is the only bird that will attack an eagle. It does this by landing on the eagles back and biting at its neck. The eagle knows enough to fly higher in altitude until the crow has too much difficulty breathing and falls away.
We need to do the same with our wisdom. Lift it up until it stops doing damage – if it in fact is. If we place all our wisdom in the light of Jesus love then we gain a better world and a better life.
This is Reign of Christ Sunday. It is the Sunday when we take time to discern the relevance of Christ in our lives and in the world around us. It is the time when we make Christ more prevalent in our world,
We have a long history of Jesus being rammed down people’s throats and consequently rejected. It is time for us to bring the positive influence of Christ back into the discussion and the wisdom we have discovered.
Paul later says that there is no good or bad wisdom. It is what we do with it.
Putting Jesus into the equation of our knowledge is like putting a drop of food colouring in a bowl of water. It colours the whole thing.
I do not believe that Paul was opposed to the vast amounts of wisdom that he was exposed to. I think he just wanted us to use it in line with Christ.
Sounds like a good idea to me.
PRAYER God, open our minds to see you in every situation and every learning moment. Teach us to be able to discern between truth and falsehood, between information and false news; between positive and negative directions, between selfish and selfless motivations. You have given the human race so much wisdom and yet there is still much more to learn and discover. Help us as we deal with the questions of life and death, of abundance and poverty, of justice and injustice. Give us insights into the way we can filter all the gifts you have given us through the focus of love that Christ tried to share, that this world may grow toward a perfect reflection of your vision.
Now we pray in the way Jesus taught us.
Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed by thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. lead us not into temptation. but deliver us from evil. for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory. forever and ever Amen
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Thanks to helpers
Opening Prayer
Hymn – 213 Rejoice the Lord is King
Scripture Ephesians 1: 15-23
Lord’s Prayer
Hymn 211 Crown him with many Crowns
Go now in Peace
Go now in peace, Never be afraid
God will go with you, each hour of every day
Go now in faith, steadfast strong and true
Know God will guide you in all you do,
Go now in love and show you believe
Reach out to others so all the world can see
God will be there, watching from above
Go now in peace, in faith and in love
Amen, Amen, Amen
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