Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Advent 21 December 2014

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Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

21 December 2014

Rev. Elder Dr. Nancy Wilson

To The Only Wise God

On this Advent Sunday of Love, we focus on the benediction from the Book of Romans in which Paul glorifies “the only wise God.”


Though the world needs love as much as it always has, right now it needs wisdom, and wise leadership even more.

When we are wise, we are touching God.

Wisdom is a quiet gift of the Spirit. It is a container that holds things that seem to be in contradiction and helps us to see a Way where there is no way, a way through to understanding, to hope, to a future. Wisdom is the unanxious presence that breathes through birth and death, through suffering and joy alike.

Today, the world struggles with conflicts on every front. Each terrorist group is replaced by one more vicious. Teenage girls are kidnapped. Civilians are murdered. Racism is resurging it seems, in the U.S. especially, as if we were revisiting the 1950s and 60s. Grief is multiplied. The minimum wage is too low for people to live decently. Human rights are at stake in so many places. Marriage equality is on a roller coaster ride. Trans brothers and sisters are still pathologized and at high risk for violence. Economies rock and roll. How is the church to be the Body of Christ in such a world?


Wisdom is a spiritual gift, cross-cultural, inter-religious, spanning across our differences like a bridge. Paul the apostle was aware of preaching the foolishness of Christ in a complicated, intersectional world. How is God’s wisdom more than human knowledge, beyond our clichés and predictions? How is wisdom the glue that holds us together through cataclysmic change, through impossible gulfs of conflict and dysfunction? We need wisdom that has faith that there are solutions and pathways through every difficulty! When pain paralyzes us, wisdom whispers to us to get up and to keep moving forward — to trust that as we do, the way will unfold.

When we are wise, we are touching God.

Wisdom is the intellectual / spiritual form that love takes.

I remember first learning the serenity prayer decades ago in the context of a twelve-step meeting, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Wisdom was the punchline, the key to all the rest. I gained wisdom in those rooms, those 12-step meetings, from ordinary people who had learned the secret of letting go and letting God. They taught me to breathe again, to breathe in the wisdom that is available, if I would only humble myself and ask.

When we are wise, we are touching God.


Many other “gods” compete to rule our lives — forces or things that are manipulative, selfish, false, unworthy of our energy, love, and devotion. We need to open ourselves up to the only wise God, who is the one worthy of our attention and connection — the one who does not demand that we sacrifice ourselves, but rather who gave her/himself for us. How can we trust the only wise Creator God, who loves us more than we could ever love ourselves and more than the “gods” who exploit our addictions?

When we are wise, we are touching God.

Jesus taught as “one with authority” — he was wise beyond his human years and experience. The early Christians testified that he incarnated that Wisdom. It is why he attracted so many and terrified others. His very being illuminated everything and everyone around him. He was good news to the poor and judgment to those who oppressed them.

Let Wisdom shine through us in this season of incarnation. May we en-flesh “the only wise God,” in our speech, in our actions for justice, in our efforts to create and sustain community on this fragile planet.

When we are wise, we are touching God, and we are transforming ourselves as we transform the world.

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