Wisdom of Solomon 10:10-15 & John 1:1-18
Reverend Tina Walker-Morin
January 3, 2016
Pilgrim Congregational Church, UCC
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable to you O God, our strength and our redeemer. Amen.
Good morning kids. It is so wonderful to have you with us for the whole service this morning! I have a question for you, What is the Bible?
Yikes, that is a big question, but at the simplest form, what is this thing? A book, that is right!
Many people wonder, how did this book come into being? Was it dropped down from the sky, did God pick up a pencil and write it? Well there are different beliefs on how it was written, but most Christians agree that it was written by people who were inspired by God.
But you know what, there was a lot more written than what we have right here. There were many more books which were left out. The process of selection and exclusion is call “canonization.” “Canon” is derived from the Hebrew term for “rule” or “rod” like one used for measuring, and gradually came to mean a regulative standard.
The Books which were selected were meant to be the “gold standard” for churches to follow. It took a long time for churches and people to decide what was in and what was out. During the reformation, the Protestants decided to remove the “apocryphal” books from the Bible, while the Catholics kept them in.
Can anyone find the Wisdom of Solomon in your pew Bible? Oh trick question, no you can’t, because it is from the Apocryphal. So if we were in the Catholic Church or the Greek Orthodox Church, their Bible would have this reading.
The history of how the Bible came to be is long and complicated but to really simplify it, it is like some of your favorite series of books such as Harry Potter or The Chronicles of Narnia. There are many books and chapters in these series right? Now suppose they are all bound together and put into one big book, some of the chapters or books might not make the collection but the end result is a big collection. That is like the Bible we have now.
There are many other writings that some people wanted included and there are writings that are included that others did not want to be part of the Bible. But in the end what was bound up together is what we have. That does not mean that one group of people was right or wrong, it is just different.
Let me read our scripture from the Wisdom of Solomon, which is not in our pew pocket Bibles. Listen for the pronoun that is used.
When a righteous man fled from his brother’s wrath,
she guided him on straight paths;
she showed him the kingdom of God,
and gave him knowledge of holy things;
she prospered him in his labors,
and increased the fruit of his toil.
11 When his oppressors were covetous,
she stood by him and made him rich.
12 She protected him from his enemies,
and kept him safe from those who lay in wait for him;
in his arduous contest she gave him the victory,
so that he might learn that godliness is more powerful than anything else.
13 When a righteous man was sold, wisdom did not desert him,
but delivered him from sin.
She descended with him into the dungeon,
14 and when he was in prison she did not leave him,
until she brought him the scepter of a kingdom
and authority over his masters.
Those who accused him she showed to be false,
and she gave him everlasting honor.
~Wisdom of Solomon 10:10-15
So what pronoun did you hear over and over again? “She”… that is right. She is the word used to refer to wisdom, which was often associated with the female property or part of God. How cool is that? We have a different word used here than what we often hear.
What do words do for us? Words are how we express ourselves. Words also hold meaning, help us communicate with each other…words are powerful.
Our second scripture today is from John 1:1-18. Listen to the words of this reading:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. 15 (John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’”) 16 From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.
What does “Word” mean here?
Kids, what did we celebrate during Advent and Christmas? That is right, Jesus’ birth, and we learned how Mary gave birth to Jesus in the manger. Well the Gospel of John does not tell Jesus’ birth in that same way; instead he writes it in a way that is poetic and references the first book of the Bible. Do you know what the first book of the Bible is? Genesis, that is right! Can someone read the first verse of Genesis for us?
John is writing in a way that is similar to what most people are familiar with…”in the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth”. In the scripture I just read, what does “Word” mean? That is right, it is referring to Jesus!
So in the beginning was the Word/Jesus, so at the start of everything Jesus existed, and was with God and the Word/Jesus was God. That is a little confusing. Let me break it down: as Christians we believe in the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But we also believe there is only one God. As we sing in the doxology, “God in three persons, blessed Trinity” we believe God comes in three forms, as God, as Jesus and as the Holy Spirit but put them all together and we have just one God.
In our scripture, Word is another way to refer to God. It is kind of like nicknames. Do you have any nicknames? A couple of the nicknames I had growing up were, Tiny Tina, Tina Bean, and Mighty Mouse. Now there are other names different people use to refer to me like, wife, Auntie, Reverend. We also have many names we use for God and Jesus.
What are some of the names we use for God and Jesus?
Father, Son, Holy Spirit, He, She, Mother, Creator, Spirit One, Son of Man, Light of the World.
How cool is that? We have so many names, so many words that all used to refer to the same God and that is good because God is bigger than anything we can imagine and all the words we use for God are correct. It is personal decision on which words you use for God. Some people like Father because of the tradition, the comfort it brings them. Others use words like Creator because it is not male nor female and references how God made everything. Whichever word you use remember that they all come from God.
All words are powerful because the Word and words come from God. As we start this New Year may we be mindful of the words we use. Whether it is the words we use to create New Year’s resolutions, the words we use to stand up for justice and righteousness and the words we speak to one another. Words are powerful we can do a lot of harm and a lot of good. After all, Jesus is the Word of God and the Light of the World. May we spread the Light of the World with our words this New Year.