Sunday, August 15, 2021

What is Wisdom - Ephesians 5

What is Wisdom

Tony E Dillon Hansen


Sermon based upon Proverbs 9, Psalm 34, and Ephesians 5:15-20


Opening Prayer:


Bret and I enjoy watching some Netflix and 80s/90s TV because we get to see a lot of stuff from growing up. From those shows in the past, I have a few favorite characters like Mr Miyagi, Yoda, Col. Sherman Potter from Mash, and the Golden Girls quartet. 


Miyagi would teach lessons by revealing the power of simplicity by turning the washing a car into lesson and having respect for all living things. Yoda would reveal ways that we share great energy and spirit. Col. Potter would share nuggets with fellow service people. The Golden Girls would expand horizons to teach us how each of us have our strengths and weaknesses; That when times are tough, through friends and family, we can achieve and grow on our own journey - especially with cheesecake. 


Each of these teach the power of listening and power of compassion for people and life. Each of these share wisdom that invites connection and listening to stories because that is how we grow and how we as community thrive. 


Wisdom is not just rhetorical words, but how we dive into messy issues and learn to get up. Wisdom is learning to use the gifts we have right in front of us and then sharing that insight through teaching, guiding, and patient listening. As a master myself, I gained more from my students than my own training.


Proverbs presents a banquet hosted by divine wisdom, and Ephesians opens the treasure chest of God’s gifts for us to see (not just for me-me-me but) for you and me and everyone in our community.  Wisdom is the gift of sharing. 


Even stories like some Rose Nylon stories - imperfect as they might be - are nuggets of sharing grace. That is why I like fellowship time, and thank you for sharing your insights. May I be reminded to sit calmly and have the patience to listen because we all know that listening takes patience. Not so I can respond to whatever is said but to take in and understand perspectives, acknowledge the gifts of each other, and grow in our mutual sharing.


Proverbs gives us wisdom as a host of a banquet; come eat the bread and drink of God’s wine. God as host prepares a table for us to live life and experience life through Christ - the bread of life. God prepares a banquet so that we might share these gifts.


“Lay aside immaturity and live with insight of God.”


How do we do that?  I am so glad you asked because Ephesians gives us several suggestions for this.  


Ephesians narrates a cosmic picture of God’s plans - with Christ as head of our great Church and us the body - a community of prayer - a community blessed with redemption, forgiveness, the honor of encountering God.  Ephesians opens up for us the treasure chest that God gives us because 1) we are “no longer strangers and aliens but citizens … members in the household of God.” (2:19)


If you were looking for how to live wisely, you can look in Ephesians 4:25-32


“Let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another… work honestly with our own hands. Let no evil talk come out of our mouths. Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander together with all malice…. Be kind to one another forgiving one another as God in Christ has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God as beloved children. And live in love.”  


We can read that feel-good wisdom all day long.


I can regurgitate facts and read verses but knowing and reading is only half the battle. 


Those are the tools, but what we do with those blessings and knowledge is where we see wisdom born in the world and through us - Shared through us and patient listening through us. 


If you leave the lessons in the book, then the knowledge given to you does nothing more.


If you however let the verses guide your heart, you will find ways to Christ through our thoughts, our words and our actions.  


Do you welcome like God welcomes?  Do you speak the truth? Do you forgive like how God forgives? Or do you let bitterness, anger and slander rule your day? Do you let others define that for you or do you let God define that grace - that good in you? 


Yes we fail at times, but there is never a better time than now for God’s grace!


The debate around COVID vaccines and masking is perfect example. We could choose to ignore the actual facts and believe disinformation instead. OR, we could do the correct thing - the sensible thing- and be examples of how not to spread COVID.


Wisdom is understanding there are paths of disinformation and illusions that hide and look “easier” - paths that separate us from the way of God. God’s way is not always easy - maybe even tough at times - but needful. So put away the angers and bitterness as they distract us.


Col Potter told one that if you gonna love someone, it isn’t easy. When things are difficult, you learn to love them a whole lot more. Miyagi would say “no matter what, always breathe.”


Wisdom is witnessing God’s cosmic plans for us in us - in our breath. It is living in the truth and sharing that truth to those around us in our compassion and empathy. 


Yes the fierce lions will have hunger, but those who seek God’s way will have all we need (Ps 34).


To our original point, wisdom is understanding that we are not the only ones harboring wisdom.  All God’s children have these gifts, and thus, we must make space for God and for our neighbors so that we can learn the many ways people come to God.


Loving God and loving neighbor are not always easy, but these are divine ways to have a better life and better community.  Loving and imitating God as children of God may not be easy, and Jesus tells us this. Yet, if we choose Jesus, we choose to walk a path with so much potential - a path that leads to rewards for us. 


That is wisdom. Open your heart to life, the bread of life, connect with people. The compassion of God is poured out for you and for you to share. Speak with truth and from your heart! Pour out your forgiveness and blessings. Then watch the whole community flourish and grow together because we connect to something much bigger than ourselves. 


We are part of the beloved children of God with all those gifts shared with us. So sit down with some cheesecake and friends. We don’t have to worry about our brokenness because God forgives our sins with an “ocean of forgiveness” every morning. We don’t have to wonder if there is enough because God replenishes our souls every morning with grace. That is not our doing but wisdom from God. Find that wisdom in your heart and see all you need in God. 


That, my friends, is real wisdom.


Thanks Be to God

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