Pentecost 25

Pentecost 25
My Psalm 25

July 2, 2014

Wisdom of the Ages

On any given Sunday in any given town in any given state in the United States of America, a church service will be held. Various peoples wearing various apparel will attend various services of various denominations to hear the one absolute truth. Someone in a position of leadership will stand and deliver either a sermon, a homily, or a “study” on a particular subject but be not confused, their speaking is to convey the one absolute truth.

In his book, “Mere Christianity”, C.S. Lewis stated: “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” Many of these preachings will involve all that is wrong with the average human and how confession will lead to deliverance. Will that deliverance give rise to greater knowledge that will prevent future ills and ill-doings? History would be evidence that the answer to that is no. Mahatma Gandhi warned against feeling too wise and, conversely, being too humble: “It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson reminded us that “A great man is always willing to be little.” Mother Teresa in her “Guide to Daily Living”, had a list of ways one could employ to practice humility and, hopefully, gain wisdom and joy for living. They included “to speak as little as possible of one’s self; to mind ones’ own business; not want to manage other people’s affairs; to avoid curiosity; to accept contradictions and correction cheerfully; to pass over the mistakes of others; to accept insults and injuries; to accept being slighted, forgotten, and disliked; to be kind and gentle, even under provocation; never to stand on one’s dignity; to choose always the hardest.”

“The highest form of education is tolerance”. Helen Keller stated that as she proved to the world how to be tolerant of one’s place and condition in life. Born in 1880, Helen Keller was a welcomed baby to her family living in a small town in northwest Alabama. A fever and subsequent illness left her blind and deaf and yet, she went on to garner international fame for her motivational speeches, work with the women’s suffrage movement, and earning the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964 before her death in 1968. Perhaps her greatest legacy is her quote on faith: “Faith is a mockery if it does not teach us that we can build a more complete and beautiful world.”

We often pray for deliverance but for what are we really asking? Do we want to be delivered from the current predicament or to be given a better life? Are we asking for wisdom from which to extricate ourselves or to be shown the path to a better reward? Helen Keller once said: “It is for us to pray not for tasks equal to our powers, but for powers equal to our tasks, to go forward with a great desire forever beating at the door of our hearts as we travel toward our distant goal.”

Wisdom can be a tricky thing and it comes with great responsibility. The knowledge we have cannot be used for self-gain or to harm. Then it becomes a destructive force and how is that intelligent? Can there be a stupid knowledge?

In the late 1990’s Wisconsin researcher Norman L. Webb developed a concept known as Depth of Knowledge. He defined it as the complexity or depth of understanding required to answer or explain a particular item or question. Webb’s DOK had four levels which involved a basic recall of facts, concepts, information, or procedures, using those skills or information, strategic thinking requiring reasoning that is abstract and/or complex, and the extended thinking or application or further investigation leading to real work or real life situations.

Given that concept of understanding, humility is easy to obtain since most of us seldom involve such a complex approach to our faith or the words heard on Sundays morning to teach us. That brings up another interesting question? Are those words designed to teach or simply preaching to occupy time? Is our faith a real life approach to all of the situations we encounter or just a family tradition to which we give lip service?

Google the phrase “wisdom of the ages” and you will get over ten million responses, ten million different ways which most likely will have little application to your own presence. In an article published at episcopalcafe.com May, 2013, Education for Ministry mentor and blogger Linda Ryan mention basic and effective ways to gain knowledge – study, living and making mistakes. She sums up the need to continue the quest for wisdom in a great way: “Nobody ever sailed to London by just sitting on the dock on Cedarbush Creek, a good many miles from the ocean.”

When we want to live our faith and do so based on knowledge, knowledge that will offer guidance and deliverance, it is important that we do more than just sit in the pew or stay on our knees. We must live our faith. We have to take it to the streets and put it to use. Our faith will build a better world. We will be guided and delivered by the greatest knowledge of all and see our Lord.

My Psalm 25
Dear Lord and Father,
To you I give my all.
Do not remember my transgressions, Lord
But listen to my heart.
Look beyond my mistakes, O Lord,
And see my intentions.
Deliver me from my vanity and ignorance;
My wrath and my guilt.
Guide me down the paths of your direction;
May your mercy be my staff along the road.
Raise me up when I stumble, Lord;
In you is my trust.
Protect your children, O God, from all miseries.

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