Thursday, May 10, 2007

Wisdom: Eat and Drink

"Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!" To him who lacks sense she says, "Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight."
-Proverbs 9:4-6

You’ve gotten those letters before: Current Occupant, Resident, to the Homeowners at your address (which is hilarious when you are in an apartment!). They are meaningless and in our house don’t get a second glance. They go right to the trashcan.

Wisdom sends out and invitation that we might think of tossing. To: Whoever is simple. Boy, makes “Resident” sound pretty good, doesn’t it? The invitation gets even better. Eat and drink, leave your simple ways. Pretty vague isn’t it? What kind of bread is this, what kind of wine will make us leave our simple ways? According to “conventional wisdom” if you want to be a successful, vibrant, growing church, you won’t do anything that may offend. That has lead some churches to go so far as to totally throw out any discussion of sin. But this isn’t conventional wisdom talking, this is True Wisdom. True and Abiding Wisdom comes to us just was we are, simple, foolish, easily deceived, and tells us to turn from that and enter into life and insight.

So what does this Proverb mean for Lutherans? We are invited to eat and drink the bread and wine prepared by Holy Wisdom.

The Small Catechism asks:
What is the benefit of such eating and drinking?
Answer: We are told in the words “for you” and “for the forgiveness of sin.” By these words the forgiveness of sins [that is, we leave our simple ways], life [the same life spoken of in the Proverb, eternal life], and salvation [both in the sense that we turn from our simple ways and in the sense that we live and walk in our new lives in Christ] are given to us in the sacrament, for where there is forgiveness of sins, there are also life and salvation.

And again, Martin Luther says:
You may ask, “What does it mean to know Christ? Or, what does he bring us?” Answer: You learn to know Christ when you comprehend the words of the Apostle recorded in I Corinthians 1:30, “Christ was given to us by God to be our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.” You comprehend this fully when you realize that all your wisdom is damnable stupidity, your righteousness damnable unrighteousness, your purity damnable impurity, your redemption miserable damnation; and when you thus discover that before God and all creatures you are actually a feel, a sinner, an unclean and condemned man, and when you show not only with words but also with all your heart and your deeds that you are left with no other comfort and salvation than the fact that Christ is given you by God and that you believe in him and partake of him, whose righteousness alone can preserve you, as you appeal to it and rely on it. Such a faith is nothing else than the eating of this bread, as Christ says in John 6 [:32], “My Father gives you the true bread from heaven.”*

This seemingly insignificant and impersonal invitation is not to be taken lightly. In it, Christ, the Wisdom and Power of God, invites us to follow Him, to be fed by Him, to be saved by Him, to live in Him. This is a great honor and blessing not to be taken lightly. Here the invitation of Wisdom! Eat and drink, live and walk in the ways of insight!

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O most Holy Wisdom, Christ our Savior, turn us from our damnable stupidity, our damnable unrighteousness, our damnable impurity, and or miserable damnation. Turn us instead to Your perfect Wisdom, Your perfect Righteousness, Your perfect Purity, and Your complete Salvation. May we ever heed Your gracious invitation to eat and drink of the good things You give us, Your own holy body and blood, that we may live and walk in insight.
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*Luther, M. (1999, c1969).
Vol. 42: Luther's works, vol. 42 : Devotional Writings I
(J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.).
Luther's Works (Vol. 42, Page 58-59).
Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

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