Thursday, March 12, 2015

Tree of LIfe

Image result for tree of lifeToday I had the privilege of leading worship and sharing a
devotional on Proverbs 3:13-18 with the other Lutheran
churches in and near Jamestown, NY. This is the message I gave.

     Have you ever had a serious conversation with someone about what they want out of life for themselves or their children? You might hear answers such as Id like them to be rich and famous, being popular or a leader in fashion, or an actor or a rock star? Others might say, "I'd like them to get a good education, get a good job, buy a nice house, get married and have a nice family. If we get down to the basics, don't most of us just want our children to be happy? What about ourselves, don't we all want to be happy? 
     Our reading from Proverbs begins and ends with the word "happy." Apparently, this was something the sages of old thought about as well. The Hebrew word that was translated as "happy, reflects the inner joy and heavenly bliss which comes to the person who is pleasing to God, whose way is right before God. It's deeper and richer than mere happiness that would be dependent upon the circumstances we are experiencing.
     Between the first and last happy of our reading, we find that the key to happiness is found in wisdom. We see how wonderful wisdom is no matter what it is compared to: whether it is silver or gold or jewels. Nothing we desire can compare with wisdom. 

     The last thing we are told is that wisdom is a tree of life. Havent we heard that term somewhere else? We first hear the term in Genesis in the garden with Adam and Eve. If they ate of that tree, they would live forever.  
     Then we have another tree in the wilderness, which saved the Israelites from poisonous snakes. All the people had to do was look at the snake on the pole and they were saved.
     Another tree in scripture is the one we talk about a lot during Lent, the one upon which our savior was crucified. The brutal, shameful instrument of death is transformed into a tree of life for all who believe.
Where do we find such wisdom today, the kind with so many benefits? Look to the Savior. According to the Apostle Paul, "Christ [is] the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1 Cor 1:24). 
     Lent is a time of soul searching. Do we want God's wisdom in our life or do we want mere human wisdom?  Let's take advantage of this season of Lent and draw nearer to Christ through prayer, meditation on scripture, sacred songs and conversation with our brothers and sisters in the faith.

     Wisdom brings us happiness and so much more.  Amen!

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