May 26, 2013 Series: Lectionary
Topic: Biblical Verse: Proverbs 8:22–8:31
Holy Trinity ï‚Ÿ May 26, 2013
St. John's Lutheran Church, Alexandria, VA
Rev. Braun Campbell
Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31; John 8:48-59
In last weekend’s sermon, we heard how the wind of the Holy Spirit blew into the apostles’ lives and the lives of thousands of others on that first Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. Earlier this week, though, our nation was reminded once again of the power of a different kind of wind as tornadoes struck Oklahoma and caused particular destruction in the town of Moore. Devastating winds leveled homes and schools, virtually wiping them from the face of the earth. As you’ve probably heard through news reports, dozens of people were killed in this natural disaster, and scores more were injured. The winds blew, and the world changed for thousands of people.
The world keeps on changing. Sometimes, as it did in Moore, that change will strip away much of what you used to think was stable in your life. Disasters will strike, both on the large-scale and on the more personal scale, and the world that you once knew will have changed into something different. It is not constant. Institutions change. Organizations and structures that once informed your identity can collapse from their own weight and unwise actions. They might bow to societal pressure to surrender ground or to transform into something entirely different than they once had been. Relationships change. Time passes and the frequency and level of contact between friends and family members may ebb and flow. A random acquaintance might develop into a lifelong friendship. A constant companion could slide off into seeming like a stranger. Even you and I change. You’ve grown since you were five years old (unless you’re under five now!); your personality and interests have developed over time. You might have discovered new kinds of food and different styles of music, but still that’s only part of how you change. You have emotions and attitudes that can shift here-and-there almost in the blink of an eye. So when the winds start blowing, how can you or I base our decisions and actions on a world, its institutions, our relationships, and even ourselves when none of those are constant? And yet most of the time, isn’t that just what you do? That’s foolishness, plain and simple. If only we had something that really was constant, something that would stand firm, even when the winds blow, something ancient that can stand the test of time!
There is a constant. In today’s Old Testament reading from Proverbs 8, we hear Wisdom calling out to a world and people that keep changing. In some passages of Scripture, Wisdom is portrayed as a woman who stands in contrast to Folly and her siren song that leads people into foolish, short-sighted, and self-centered living. Starting in verse 22, we see that Wisdom is even more of a person that those other illustrations would indicate: Wisdom has been around since before the beginning of time, preexistent to creation. Wisdom here isn’t some abstract concept, but was beside God the Father, like a master workman, setting up everything for which David writes praise to God in Psalm 8. Wisdom, speaking here in this passage of Proverbs, is God the Son. Christ – who, as St. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:24 is “the power of God and the wisdom of God” – was with the Father and the Holy Spirit in establishing the universe, even time itself. And that same Person of God the Son entered into His creation and into time. Christ Jesus could then rightly stand before the religious leaders of his day, as we heard in our Gospel text, and make the claims that he did. Abraham, who looked ahead in faith to the day of God’s promised Messiah, followed in the path of God’s Wisdom, but great as he was and as important as he was to the Jewish people, Abraham was not Wisdom. He was not God. When Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” the crowd knows exactly what Jesus is doing: he is claiming to be God Himself, Yahweh, Lord of Abraham and David alike. It is an outrageous claim to their ears, yet it is the truth. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God who existed before time began. Christ is the constant. He came to deliver Yahweh’s unchanging love to people who are blown about by ever-changing winds. He came to use the cross as an anchor for all time where you and I can see the Wisdom of God at work in bringing humanity and all creation back to the one Who made them all, taking on our sin and fixing it on Himself. Christ, the Wisdom of God, came to be your constant.
Even though the world changes, institutions change, relationships change, and you change, the Triune God has a plan to see you through – even beyond the end of time. In the aftermath of disasters such as what we’ve seen in Oklahoma, first responders and relief workers come to bring rescue to people whose world has changed. God brings salvation to you, life through Christ that lasts even when everything else seems to be changing. In Jesus, our Rescuer, we receive life which cannot be put out by physical death. It stands in Christ even when homes fall or health fails, following the Wisdom of God and not the folly of the world around us. The life that Jesus delivers to you is a present reality, and one which also will outlast time.
God keeps you under His care in a world of change, even using the powers of princes and nations to do so. This weekend as our country observes Memorial Day, our congregation along with others in our church body celebrate Armed Forces Sunday. We give thanks to God for all those men and women who have served and continue to serve to defend our nation, remembering especially those who gave their lives in performing that duty. God can and does work through the agency of militaries to protect people from evil and chaos, and so it’s fitting for us to pray for and honor those who give of themselves in our country’s armed forces. As the wind continues to blow – both figuratively and literally – may those people serve in a way which follows the Wisdom of God in demonstrating His constant love for all people everywhere.
St. John’s has started a new capital campaign, looking to make good changes: retiring our remaining debt on our westside property and beginning work to improve and expand our congregation’s facilities. Someday, the buildings that occupy our current campus will probably be gone – even our present sanctuary may one day be wiped from the face of the earth. Yet while we are here in this place and time as God’s people in Christ, we follow His instruction to make wise use of our resources. Seeking to develop the buildings and campus here, we must use what we’ve got in our mission to connect other souls with God by the Holy Spirit’s work among us. We are to follow Peter’s example in Acts 2, bearing witness to Jesus as our constant, the Messiah who has brought rescue to our world. Peter offered one of the first creedal statements of the Christian Church in his proclamation that day, professing Jesus of Nazareth as both Lord and Christ. Jesus is Lord, the one name above all names, Yahweh, God Himself. Using these buildings and this campus, we have the opportunity to share that same witness with our community, one which stands strong around the cross of Christ in a culture of change.
The world changes. God does not. Institutions change. God does not. Relationships change. God does not. You change. God does not. Winds will blow all around you, but God’s love for you is constant. Christ Jesus, the Son of God and the Wisdom of God, who was before time and is above all time, has made you his own. He will keep you in his care even when time is no more. Jesus is your constant.