Advent 2020 – The Way to Wisdom
Based upon: Ecclesiasticus 24.3; Wisdom 8.1
By Melody Briggs, Director of Studies – Lindisfarne CT- Please Share Widely
O Wisdom, coming forth
from the mouth of the Most High,
reaching from one end to the other,
mightily and sweetly ordering all things:
Come and teach us the way of prudence.
cf Ecclesiasticus 24.3; Wisdom 8.1
Today in our journey through Advent we come to the celebration of wisdom, drawing on two great Jewish books of the ancient sages: Ben Sira and the Wisdom of Solomon. These sages had a question: how does the wisdom we find in God relate to the wisdom we learn in our daily lives and from the people around us?
Their answer was simple. They say that if we attend to the words that God speaks – the wisdom that comes ‘from the mouth of the Most High’ as Ben Sira puts it,
then we will end up wise wherever we are in the world, and in whatever we are doing.
God’s wisdom, they say, orders all things.
But what does that mean? Surely being wise about your job or your house or your children’s education or your spending – these are just practical matters of daily living and not much to do with God?
Ben Sira says no – by no means! – all these practical matters are tied up with living in a way that is attentive to what God says. To put it simply: God has opinions on everything, and wisdom means listening to him.
We do not live in a world that is excited about wisdom. We don’t turn on the TV to tune in to Celebrity Wisdom Island, or I’m a Wise Person Get Me Out of Here or, what would be my favourite, Have I Got Wisdom for You! The long, slow work of growing in wisdom does not make the headlines. People rarely stop us in the street to ask ‘How can I be wise?’
Yet our lives are filled every day by a hundred and one decisions, and judgments about what to do, who to trust, how to live. And God loves to give us wisdom for these things.
When I was a young teenager, I used to pray for wisdom. Through the years, I have learned that wisdom grows slowly and that it grows when I listen to the voice of God. Wisdom means making good use of what I know before God. The book of Proverbs says that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. I have found that asking what will honour God, what shows respect for God, helps me to find the path of wisdom.
In Advent, we prepare for the coming of our King, for Christ. The path of wisdom calls us to take Christ as Lord, to let Christ be the King of our daily lives. When we seek to honour Christ in our decisions, in how we use our time, in how we speak to other people, in how we treat others, we live as citizens of Christ’s Kingdom.
That is the path of wisdom. There is no other.
So let’s add wisdom to our Christmas list as we wait – in hope and expectation – to celebrate the coming of our King this Advent.