Wisdom’s Call: Humility, Diversity and Reconciliation
A sermon preached by Muthuraj Swamy at the Cambridge Theological Federation’s 2022-23 academic year inaugural worship service at Great St Mary’s church on Tuesday 4th October 2022.
May I speak in the name of God, the source of all wisdom. Amen.
Good evening everyone. I greet you all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I thank God for this wonderful opportunity to worship God together as the CTF ecumenical community.
The theme for our worship today is wisdom. Our two readings as well as the Psalm we sang are connected to this theme. The reading from the book of Proverbs tells us how wisdom was present when God created the world; Psalm 104 details the wonders and beauty of God’s creation; and the Colossians text talks about Jesus, the human manifestation of the eternal wisdom, present with God from the beginning, and holding all creation together.
I would like to lift one particular verse this evening:
“O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.”
Let us reflect together how wisdom in God’s creation has made things as they are, and what we as a community, embarked on a journey of theological education and ministry, may learn from this wisdom. I will briefly share three of them.
First, wisdom keeps reminding us that creation is, above anything, about God. God’s act of creation shows us that we are finite beings. Human beings may be able to do several things, but not everything. There is always the creator God who is in control. For, God is the source of everything, visible and invisible. The earth and everything in it belong to God. The earth is full of God’s creatures, as we read.
The recent Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops in Canterbury in July-August this year had the theme ‘God’s Church for God’s World: Walking, Listening and Witnessing Together.’ The phrase ‘God’s world’ may be problematic for some, for example to an atheist, who may not believe in the existence of God. The arguments about existence or non-existence of God are unending, but for me believing in God as the creator primarily means to exercise humility in all aspects of our lives. We all belong to God, and we are nothing on our own. If we genuinely believe that the world belongs to God, it makes us humble before God. It impacts how we see the world around us and how we relate with each other.
Wisdom, present in God’s creation, invites us to see how God is in action in the world continuously.
Second, the psalmist praises God for God’s manifold works. An important aspect of God’s creation is that it is not in a single form. It is not homogenous. In all our readings, we see references to the multitude of God’s creation. Multitude is not only about the quantity of God’s creation, but also the plurality and diversity in creation. We learn from our scriptures, and see in our everyday lives, that God’s creation is so diverse.
In God’s creation, God keeps things different and unique, so that each of them carry on their functions. We see day and night, light and physical darkness, water and land, heaven and earth, stone and soil, many more likewise. We see varieties of vegetation and living beings which depend on each other.
Today diversity is celebrated as an important aspect of life – important for many while maybe controversial for some. But the act of God’s creation indeed shows us the need for diversity. A genuine affirmation in God’s creation is an affirmation of diversity in life. Affirmation of unique and distinct nature of God’s creation.
Third, affirming God as the creator, as we read, is believing in Jesus the eternal Wisdom, the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation, the head of the church, the beginning as well as the end. This Wisdom holds together the whole of creation.
What the Colossians text particularly brings to us is that, it is not just the diversity of creation but also holding them together, which is crucial for creation to live and thrive. While talking about diversity, there may be a temptation to remain just at the level of diversity, but a question needs to be asked, ‘is diversity an end in itself’? For me, diversity makes sense only when we think in what ways the diverse things will stay connected with each other in good relationship.
What Jesus the Wisdom does, and shows us, is he is not only present in creation from the beginning, but also holds creation together. Through Him God reconciles to Godself all things. Through Him we are reconciled with each other. If differences and diversity cannot lead to reconciliation and good relationships between people and between communities, there is a problem. Some may see reconciliation as a compromise and even dangerous, but the opposite is only more exclusion, division and chaos.
In creation, God’s wisdom was present and made things possible, beautiful, plentiful, diverse and inter-dependent. Jesus the human manifestation of the eternal Wisdom, holds together creation, and through His life and teachings, as well as His death and resurrection, has shown us how to be reconciled with God and with each other. In theological education, and in our whole life, we are in search of this wisdom. We continue to seek wisdom to understand and interpret things around us. We want to grow in wisdom.
Our readings today teach us that wisdom is about affirming God in everything; it is about celebrating diversity ordained by God; and it is about reconciliation.
Let this Wisdom, Jesus, who holds together God’s creation, continue to guide us, lead us and inspire our imagination and action as we begin this new academic year. Amen.
The Revd Dr Muthuraj Swamy, Director, Cambridge Centre for Christianity Worldwide