Saturday, May 25, 2013

Reflections on Proverbs 8: 1-4, 22-31

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31

1Does not wisdom call,
and does not understanding raise her voice?
2On the heights, beside the way,
at the crossroads she takes her stand;
3beside the gates in front of the town,
at the entrance of the portals she cries out:
4"To you, O people, I call,
and my cry is to all that live.
22The LORD created me at the beginning of his work,
the first of his acts of long ago.
23Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
24When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.
25Before the mountains had been shaped,
before the hills, I was brought forth--
26when he had not yet made earth and fields,
or the world's first bits of soil.
27When he established the heavens, I was there,
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
28when he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,
29when he assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
30then I was beside him, like a master worker;
and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always,
31rejoicing in his inhabited world
and delighting in the human race."

The Old Testament can be traditionally divided into three parts by purpose: The Torah, or Pentateuch; the Prophets; and the Writings. Within the section of Writings there is the “Wisdom literature,” and Proverbs is one of these, along with the Psalms, the Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon), Job, and Ecclesiastes. Within the Apocrypha, there is also Wisdom (or Wisdom of Solomon)and Sirach (also known as Ecclesiasticus). These are philosophical works that talk about questions of virtue, judgment, values, and the nature of reality. The Book of Proverbs supposedly started out as a collection of wise sayings by King Solomon, who was so known for his wisdom that the word “solomonic” is still used to refer to the ability to parse one’s judgments with incredible acuity. Other contributors to the Book of Proverbs are “the Wisemen” (no, not THOSE Wise Men!), “Agur son of Jakeh,” and a King Lemuel (whom many scholars attribute to be Solomon, others claim he was a non-Israelite king who nonetheless worshipped God. It is believed that Proverbs was compiled as an oral tradition, possibly from the time of Solomon in the 10th century BCE, and then much of it compiled in the 7th century BCE. Later chapters also show evidence of being influenced by Israel’s exile in the 6th century BCE.

Note that Wisdom is described in the feminine. This is not always the case—the first verse of the Gospel of John equates Wisdom with the Word—that is, Jesus. But it is still a big change when we talk about God or any part of God in the feminine. Also note that between the two sections we have here—verses 1-4 and 22-31—there is a change from third person to first person. At first Wisdom is being talked about, and then she is talking herself. Now this is a particular kind of Wisdom—it is not cleverness or slyness. Wisdom involves seeking as much as knowing, since there is certainly a difference between knowledge and wisdom. This Wisdom leads us to God and God’s pathways.

The implication here is that God’s (self-) revelation through Wisdom is not a particularly Jewish Wisdom, or Christian wisdom, or Anglican Wisdom. It’s part of what is often referred to as “natural theology” in a way—the idea that reason and experience can reveal God to humanity, that the observation of nature can reveal God to us. Some have characterized this as theology without religion. There is actually an endowed series of lectures called the Gifford Lectures from the Universities of St. Andrews, Aberdeen, and Edinburgh that have been presented for over 100 years. These are quite interesting, and have featured Archbishop William Temple, Albert Schweitzer, Karl Barth, and Iris Murdoch as well as John Polkinghorne, who is a scientist/theologian.  Remember that natural theology is just one of many different ways to encounter God, and really is more of a stepping-off point for most of us. As Christians, we continue through to also consider the revelation of God that is made manifest in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Remember, this is Trinity Sunday!

In verses 1-4, Wisdom is standing outside the gates, calling out to people and asking them to follow her. Anyone who has been a teacher knows that some will follow. But wisdom calls out to everyone—“to all that live” (v. 4).  She shows no discrimination based on nationality. This can be interpreted by us in our particular context as continuing the thread we have been hearing for weeks about unity. In Biblical times, women of good repute did not stand in such places-- women who did risked their reputations, and were often beggars or prostitutes. And yet, Wisdom is willing to shock to gain the attention of those she calls. She is not where we would expect her to be.

Staring in verse 22, Wisdom claims that she was created first by God and then assisted God in the rest of the works of creation. This echoes the first verse of our psalm last week, 104.25:
O LORD, how manifold are your works!
 in wisdom you have made them all;
 the earth is full of your creatures.”

She is a “master worker” (v. 30) designing creation is all its variety, as we are reminded here and in Psalm 104.

Wisdom can be described as coming from God alone, as well as being one of the hypostases (manifestations) of God. This gets us to why are reading this on Trinity Sunday. The Roman Catechism describes wisdom as one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (along with understanding, counsel, courage, knowledge, piety, and “a sense of the wonder and awe of the Lord.” Wisdom is created first because that would make her the oldest of creation, and it is traditional to often associate wisdom with age, according to Ralph W. Klein.

So, just as we saw last week in Psalm 104, all of the wonders of creation are ascribed as part of the amazing works of God and demonstration of both 1) God’s wisdom, and 2) God’s activity in the world. As Genesis 1:2 echoes these verses in Proverbs, the “Spirit of God” moved over the waters. Thus, Wisdom can be associated with the Holy Spirit. Last week, we proclaimed, “Come, Holy Spirit!” This week, in this reading we echo that cry as we seek and are sought by Wisdom.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Prayer 123: Inspired by Psalm 31 (For the victims of the Moore, OK tornado)

In You, O God, do we take refuge:
our trust is in You as we cry out in distress.
Even when the darkness surrounds us,
when walls close in upon us,
You are our mighty fortress.

Preserve us within the storms of life,
for though the tempest rages about us,
You are our God.
Mighty winds may blow and howl,
but You, O God,
are our rock of refuge and stronghold to keep us safe.
For You take heed of our souls' distress
and will never give us up to the power of darkness and despair.

We rest in the hands of the Almighty:
we rejoice in your mercy and lovingkindness.
Watch over your children, we pray,
and embrace those who rest within You.


Monday, May 20, 2013

Prayer 123 (For the victims of the Tornadoes in Oklahoma)

(inspired by Psalm 31)
In You, O God, do we take refuge:
our trust is in You as we cry out in distress.

Even when the darkness surrounds us,
when walls close in upon us,
You are our mighty fortress.

Preserve us within the storms of life,
for though the tempest rages about us,
You are our God.

Mighty winds may blow and howl,
but You,
O God,
are our rock of refuge and stronghold to keep us safe.

For You take heed of our souls' distress
and will never give us up to the power of darkness and despair.

We rest in the hands of the Almighty:
we rejoice in your mercy and lovingkindness.

Watch over your children, we pray,
and embrace those who rest within You.


(cross posted at

Prayer 122: being God's sanctuary

Almighty God, we praise you!
Let us sing and give praise to God's name,
and tell the glad news of salvation from day to day.

Help us to be converted not just in our hearts but in our actions.
Let us proclaim God's glory and marvelous deeds
to all nations by our words and works this day.
Let God be honored by the justice and mercy we show each other.

God's sanctuary is the strength and beauty of a loving heart:
may we make a home for God within us.
And we ask God's care and blessing over these for whom we pray this day.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Prayer 112

Almighty God,
your glory fills the eastern skies
as we rise to take up our lives in You.

Let us clothe ourselves in obedience to your greatest commandment,
which is to love each other.
We turn our eyes, hearts, and hands to you
as we gather before you in prayer.

We thank you, praise you, and bless you
as the source of our strength and wellspring of our hope.

Help us to draw upon your love
as we move through the arc of this day
and tend to your creation with care.

We ask your blessing upon those for whom we pray this day.


Prayer 121

Come into our hearts, O God, and make them your home,
for you are the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Help us to follow paths of righteousness and justice for your Name's sake.

May we obey your commandments in each thought,
and embody your ways in a world that does not know You
through our own fault.

May we love You with all of our being,
and love each other in all of our actions.
Make our hearts a hearth where your Spirit can burn, 
and animate us to do your will.
Give your angels charge, we pray,
over all those who are in any trouble or need.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Prayer 120

We rise from our rest to sing your praise, O Love Eternal.
We thank You for your manifold works in creation
which reveal your wisdom and generous love to us.
We thank you for our place within creation
and seek to work within it to preserve and guard it.

The Earth is full of signs of your love for us,
and we are glad indeed.
Your love is as vast as the sheltering sky
that we walk under each moment,
sustaining us in all we do.

We breathe You in, O God:
May we breathe out your Love into the world.
We ask that you send your Spirit particularly
over these needs and concerns today.


Friday, May 17, 2013

Prayer 119

O Merciful One, we know that there is a time for everything,
for our times are in your hand.

Someone's hopeful, Lord--and You are with them:
May they know your presence.
Someone's laughing, Lord-- and You are with them:
May they know your presence.
Someone's crying, Lord-- and You are with them:
May they know your presence.
Someone's troubled, Lord-- and You are with them:
May they know your presence.
Someone's being born, Lord--and You are with them:
May they know your presence.
Someone's dying, Lord-- and You are with them:
May they know your presence.

With the hands you have given us to do your will,
we raise up these names today and ask your care to rest upon them.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Prayer 118

O God, we are your children:
Let us always trust in You.

O God, we are your children:
Let us take You by the hand as we learn to walk in your pathways.
O God, we are your children:
Let us burrow into your embrace in our sorrows and hurts.
O God, we are your children:
Let us be fed by your Word and your Truth
     so that we may always follow in your shadow.
O God, we are your children:
Let us rejoice in your Love that never fails
     and forgives us abundantly
     so that we may be guided to try to do the same.
O God, we are your children:
Help us to plant compassion in our hearts.

Help us to comfort and aid
these for whom we pray this day,
who are your children too.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Prayer 117

O God, You are our sun when storm clouds gather:
You are a cool, verdant pathway when we fear we've lost our way.

You, My God, are the hope that springs forth
when the lighthouse beacon steers us from the shoals.
You, Loving One, are the eagle
who both soars and shelters her young under her wings.
You, Holy One, are our true North
and, at the end of our days,
our rest.

Protect us, guide us, inspire us, and nurture us
as we journey through this life.
We pray especially for these whose names we raise before you.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Prayer 116: A Prayer for Those Who Mourn

Holy One, we come to you in silence
seeking rest and comfort:
let us rest here awhile and take strength.
In the midst of mourning,
may we remember laughter.

In the midst of pain,
may we remember beauty.
In all that tries us,
may we remember your sheltering arms
and cool, sweet mercy.

Give respite to the weary, Lord,
and peace to the troubled,
and light to those who search for a path through this day.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Prayer 115

God of all Mercies,
we thank you for the dawn of a new day.

As You yourself are holy, Loving God,
let us be holy and upright in our conduct this day.
As creation blooms around us,
let us too sing songs of praise and joy
to the Source of All Being.
As the mountains stand against the skyline,
let us stand firm in faith and righteousness.

Send out your Spirit to unite us to You and one another,
and may it rest upon these for whom we pray this day.


A Prayer of Thanksgiving for the Birth of a Child

Loving God, we thank you for the safe arrival of Tory Hill
into the arms of his mother and father.
May he walk in wisdom
and grow in grace all the days of his life.
May his spirit be strong
in acting in love and charity,
and may his days be filled with joy and laughter.

May he gladden the hearts of all he meets,
this day and every day.


For the birth of Victor Gerald Hill IV

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Prayer 114: for Mother's Day

Loving God, you are our Mother,
and you have given us mothers to care for us.

We thank you for mothers of blood,
mothers of choice, mothers of the heart,
and mothers in spirit.
We thank you for their labor that brought us into the world
and their labor that eased our way through this world.

We thank you for the wisdom they have imparted to us
and the guidance they have given us,
even when we didn't listen.
We thank you for mothers who have soothed our hurts
and soothed our hearts.

We know that they reflect your love for us,
which never fails and never falls.
Comfort those who miss their mothers today, O Love Divine,
and also those for whom we now pray.


A Prayer for the Death of a Child

Come, Holy One, come.
Come to those who are weary,
and need rest and relief.
Come to those who mourn.

Loving God,
we turn to you in times of heartbreak and grief.
We know that your thoughts are not our thoughts,
and you are too high for us to comprehend.
But you, Loving One, suffer with us
and know our pains,
as we are your very own.
We know you bend your heart to those
who cry out to you.

Send out your Spirit
upon those who mourn a loss beyond comprehension,
and give us guidance to do what we can
to love them through these days and hours.

Amen, amen, amen.

For Delia Fader, may she rest in peace and rise in glory,
and for her parents and her sister,
and all her family and friends.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Prayer 113

Loving God, you have given us this new day:
may we fill it with acts of compassion to others.
May we be renewed in faith and courage
to carry your Love into the world.
May we boldly proclaim your Name
and represent it
with open hearts, open minds, and open hands.
May we walk gently upon the Earth,
embracing your creation as You embrace us.
May we encourage each other in walking the pilgrim path,
hand in hand with each other as your people.

And may your Spirit hover over those beloveds for whom we pray this day.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Prayer 111

Our thoughts and prayers ascend to you O Lord,
as we finish the watches of the night.
We gather ourselves in silent contemplation
of all your magnificent works,
and cherish this moment to rest before you.

You are the source of all light and goodness,
and we hope to reflect that into the world
by our actions today.
Make us the bearers of the peace
we long to see in the world.
Give your Spirit charge over those
who are weary, uncertain, or in need of healing.


A Prayer for Magdalene St. Louis

O God, you are a haven in times of turmoil.
You are our mighty rock and stronghold.

We know your love and mercy never fail;
we know your compassion can never be shaken.
Send your blessing out upon Magdalene House St. Louis
and help it to be a place of respite and healing
for all who are connected with it.
Imbue its workers with grace
and its leadership with wisdom.

And all this we pray for your Love's sake.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Prayer 110

Praise God in the beauty of morning,
whose mercy and love endure forever!
All blessings flow from You, O Great One,
like the western wind, scented with jasmine.
Our hopes spring up like the hills;
our strength renewed as we seek to follow your ways.

Give us grace to do your will,
and discernment to obey your commandments of love and compassion.
Let us comfort the sorrowing and the downhearted,
and recognize your presence in the stranger in our midst.

Watch over those whose hearts are heavy,
and those whose needs we bring before you.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Prayer 109 (inspired by Psalm 103)

The blessings of the Lord our God
outnumber the stars,
and we praise You, Lord, with all of our might.

You forgive our weaknesses and wrongs
and call us back to you again and again.
You are gracious to us as we find our way to You,
and crown us with love and compassion.
You abound in love for us;
your patience is like a flower that never withers
even in the heat of our foolishness.

Be the ruler of our hearts, O Merciful One,
and the guidance of our hands:
let us praise You through our actions today.
Give courage to us when we falter,
strength to us when bowed down,
endurance to us when overwhelmed,
and mercy when suffering.

We lift up these loved ones to you.


Monday, May 6, 2013

Prayer 108: for endurance

Let all creation sing a song of praise to you, O Love Divine,
for we depend upon your mercy.

Give us discerning hearts
to do your will in our lives today,
for we are your hands in the world.
Imbue us with the energy we need
to meet today's challenges,
for we know that you are the source of all power.
Govern our hearts and minds and help us to persevere,
just as you never give up on us
even when we stumble.

Guide, guard, and protect those for whom we pray this day.


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Prayer 107

We gather together to ask your blessing, O Mighty One
 upon the works of our hands and our hearts this day.

Consecrate and hallow your people, O God,
that we will pursue justice and wisdom
in all we do to each other.
Knit us together in unity and love for your Love's sake.
Let us persist only in those works
which promote harmony and forbearance
as we seek to love each other
according to your commandment.

Spread the wings of your protection over these
for whom we pray this day.