Series B                                                    Pentecost XII             August 19, 2012

Proverbs 9:1-6        John 6:51-58


Proverbs 9:10 states that:

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”

In today’s first lesson from that same chapter of Proverbs, wisdom is depicted as a woman who has prepared a great banquet for her guests.  Everyone has been invited to that banquet even the simple, people without sense, and the immature.  Notice that this is an invitation, not a command.  Those invited have a choice: to attend or not.  Of course the wise choice is attendance.  To attend is to:

“…live, and walk in the way of insight.”

“Insight” is an Old Testament phrase meaning you will gain knowledge of the Holy One.  In other words, you would come to know God.  Those who do not come at wisdom’s invitation remain simple, without sense and immature.  They will never truly know God even though in their senseless ways they will convince themselves that they do.

Bruce Larson, in “Faith For The Journey”, tells the story of a successful factory that made drills.  One day the owner told his corporate officials that he was going to retire and that he had chosen his son as his successor.  At the next board meeting, the son asked his four vice presidents, “What are your goals for the company for the next 5 to 10 years?”

One vice president replied, “Well, sir, we’re looking at new sizes and shapes of different drills.”

The son then dropped his bombshell.  “I have news for you — there is no market for drills.”  One could feel the tension in the air.  He con­tinued, “From now on we will not think drills.  We will not sell drills.  We’ll sell holes!  People don’t want to buy a drill; they want to make a hole!”

As they began to think of other ways to create holes, they developed, for instance, lasers.  This company is still in business and many of its competitors are now bankrupt.

For the church to succeed in its mission for Christ, for St. John’s to stay a vibrant and active congregation, we need to stop thinking of the church in the traditional ways of promoting our faith.  There was a time when people were seeking God so they would know right from wrong, in order to please God.  People are not looking for those things today.  There was a time when church attendance wasn’t ever in question.  When you belonged to a church, you were there to worship every Sunday.  Just being in worship to praise God and remember what God has done made the rest of the week go better.  That is not the way people think any more.  People, today, are looking for ways to make their life count for something, they are seeking fulfillment.  Some find that on a golf course or at a NasCar Race on Sunday mornings.  There are many non-religious ways people seek fulfillment today.

The personification of Wisdom in our first lesson from Proverbs is also offering fulfillment.  But this wisdom is telling us that true fulfillment and meaning can only be found in one place.  That place is discovered with the insight this wisdom gives.  It is found in bread and wine, not just any bread and wine, but the bread and wine that Christ is offering.

Today I am baptizing a little baby.  I am reminded of a children’s sermon I had done around the baptismal font on another Sunday I had a baptism.  During that children’s sermon I poured the water into the font and as I did so a little girl asked if that were holy water.

I thought for a minute about how to answer her.  The truth of the matter was that I had gotten that water out of the faucet in one of the bathroom sinks.  It came from water pipes that fed our church, the same water source that everyone in Northumberland got their water.

But what makes something holy?  Is it where it comes from?  The bricks that were used to build St. Johns only came from a block away where the brick kilns were located in this town back in the 1800’s.  I don’t think that 4th and Queen Street is an especially holy place.  And more than likely many of the brick houses built in town at that time were built with bricks from those same kilns.  Are those house holy places?  Certainly a church is a holy place.  So, isn’t it rather whether God takes it up and uses it for his purposes that truly makes something holy?  For it is God, and God alone, that makes things holy, and so I answered her, “It is now.”

That is also true of the bread and wine we use in communion, of the money we place in the offering plate, of our lives given in service to God’s will, of buildings and land when God’s purposes are fulfilled in that place, of people who live out their baptismal and confirmational promises in the service of God.

We aren’t here to sell religion.  God doesn’t offer religion.  God offers love and service and that is what he asks of us.  We are fulfilled when we truly love and serve God and others, and give to God our all as Jesus did for us.  That is the banquet wisdom invites us to attend so that we can

“…live, and walk in the way of insight.”