Faith and Life Gathering Reflection
by Charlene Smalls, co-pastor, Ripple (Allentown, PA)
The August 17 Faith and Life Gathering gave me the opportunity to be the voice of wisdom. Following introductions, we prayed for the leading of the Holy Spirit to be with us, as we discerned what wisdom had to say. The people at my table asked me to read the scripture, so that we might hear wisdom from a woman’s voice, as personified in Proverbs 8:1-5 (NIRV).
1Doesn’t wisdom call out?
Doesn’t understanding raise her voice?
2 At the highest point along the way,
she takes her place where the paths meet.
3 Beside the gate leading into the city,
she cries out at the entrance. She says,
4 “People, I call out to you.
I raise my voice to all human beings.
5 You who are childish, get some good sense.
You who are foolish, set your hearts on getting it.
As a woman, I was captivated. I sensed the Holy Spirit speaking, saying that wisdom calls and she is like a mother who meets her children at all points. No matter where they are, she is there, beckoning them to safety and assurance. She is bold in her efforts to make sure they receive all that she has to offer, and when they veer off the path, she stands tall like a willow tree blocking their path to destruction. When they call, she answers.
Does wisdom not point us to a loving God, the one who answers when we call, giving direction? But we don’t always like the answer, so we ignore wisdom’s nudge to turn to God and away from destruction.
After reading Proverbs 8, we discussed four questions. Below are the questions and a summary of our responses:
What are the characteristics of wisdom described in this passage?
Some of wisdom’s characteristics are slow, but powerful, and attainable. Wisdom is knowledge and experience correctly applied. Wisdom is the ability to discern what is right and what is wrong.
What is wisdom’s call or counsel and to whom?
Wisdom’s call and counsel is to all humankind. It calls us to live and share a life centered in Christ, a life lived in light and not darkness. Wisdom invites us to live life at its best.
How are we to access the needed wisdom to help us know how to proceed?
To access this wisdom, we need to create safe spaces where we can listen, yield, and be open to receiving wisdom. “Wisdom creates a safe space to share our deepest and hardest questions through a spirit of love that frees us from fear,” said Noel Santiago.
How can we support one another as we pursue wisdom in our different ministry contexts?
We need to make ourselves available to one another outside of meetings, conferences, and other formal settings. We must respect our differences and seek understanding of those differences. We need to listen so that we hear in different contexts and pray for a non-anxious spirit as we guide our congregations. We also need to pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance on how deep to go into the issues being addressed at this fall’s Assembly.
It is our prayer that these conversations will help us to speak clearly and truthfully, lead justly and diligently, and to pursue wisdom before riches, power, status, or anything else.
Charlene Smalls is co-pastor of Ripple in Allentown, PA.