Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Boasting for Jesus

Texts: John 13.16-20  & 1 Corinthians 9.16-19

Last week, as I’m sure you remember, I pondered the value of service both to the receiver and the giver of acts of love.  That theme of servanthood continues in today’s readings, thanks to the Lectionary – only, this time, there is a critical edge to the words we read.

First, in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, we can infer (from what he says) that he’s having a bit of a problem with the troublesome church in Corinth.  Much of his letter addresses matters of church discipline – and particularly focuses on inappropriate use of the gifts of the Spirit.  But today, we hear a note of frustration on the topic of boasting.  Paul starts this portion of his letter by saying ‘if I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting…’, which we infer means that the Corinthians were doing entirely the opposite. 

They had fallen prey to that most pernicious of problems in all religions; the sin of religious pride.  Perhaps, after the initial excitement of their conversion, the Corinthian Christians had started to pump themselves up as being superior to believers of other religions.  We can imagine them standing in the town square, railing at the crowd about how sinful they were, and about how the only way to be saved was through faith in Jesus.  The trouble is that a significant portion of the members of all religions have this tendency.  Amongst certain strains of Islam, for example, anyone who isn’t a Muslim is described as an ‘infidel’ (which means ‘unfaithful one’).  There is a built in superiority in certain kinds of people who claim that what they believe is the only faith that matters. 

We see this tendency today among certain sections of the church.  There are strains of Christianity which teach that all other so-called Christians are, in fact, apostate sinners condemned to hell.  Maybe that’s because such ‘sinners’ have a different attitude to Scripture, or they believe in welcoming people of varying sexuality, or they are criticised for letting tradition get in the way of the Spirit.  But among the most boastful sects of Christianity are those who hold in contempt anyone who doesn’t believe exactly what the sect believes.  That might be about, say, the meaning of the Cross, the coming of End Times, the Creation of the Earth, and the infallibility of Scripture.  Such people are labelled as ‘back-sliders’, at best, or ‘heretics’ at worst.

Which is a shame because I count myself among those who tend to have a rather more flexible, open approach to Scripture and its teachings.  My yardstick for deciding what is important in the Bible is Jesus himself – at least the Jesus presented to us by the Gospels’ sometimes competing and contradictory accounts. 

In our Gospel we read Jesus’ teaching that no servant is greater than their master, and no messenger is greater than the one who sent them.  Jesus is clearly warning his followers not to get ahead of themselves, and especially not to imagine that their ideas about God, theology and the world are of more import than the clear and plain teaching of Jesus.  Jesus spoke plainly, or in easy-to-understand parables about a whole host of subjects.  He left us in no doubt about how we were to live with God and with one another.

So when people turn to pages of the Bible to justify their own prejudices on a whole variety of topics, I find myself wanting to check their views against the published teachings of Jesus.  So, what did Jesus say about whether the world was made in six days?  Nothing.  What did Jesus teach about the meaning of his death?  Only that he had to die for the sins of the world – nothing about how his death would achieve that, nothing about paying a ransom to the devil, or paying the price for our sin, or appeasing the wrath of God.  He just said that he would pour out his life for the sins of the world. 

What did Jesus say about homosexual relationships, or about transgender politics?  Absolutely nothing.  But he did teach about the importance of love, and committed faithfulness in human relationships.

What did Jesus say about how to treat refugees and strangers?  He told a story of a hated Samaritan who turned out to be a blessing on one who would have labelled him a stranger.  He welcomed Romans, Samaritans, and gentiles of all kinds into his circle of love.

What did Jesus teach about whether women could be priests?  Nothing.  But he did include women among his wider circle of disciples – something unknown for any other Jewish Rabbi.

What did Jesus teach about wealth and possessions?  That hoarding them is stupid.

Do you see the point I’m making?  We human beings are very good at religious pride.  We are very good at nicking odd bits of Scripture, written for a desert tribe between two and three thousand years ago, and then quoting those Scriptures boastfully to claim that our version of the Gospel is the only Truth.

Instead, I recommend, we are invited to bring Jesus to the fore.  Let’s explore what God is like, and how we should live with each other, through the lens of Jesus: the one man in human history who could claim that God was his Father, in a real and literal sense.  After all, like Paul, we have a gospel – good news – to proclaim.  It’s the good news that God is real, though we’ll never grasp God’s infinite immensity.  It’s the good news that God loves us, and created us – never mind how or when.  It’s the good news that he sent Jesus to show us what the father-heart of God is like, and to teach us how to love each other, and live with each other.  Perhaps we would do best to return to the gospels, and see the world through the lens of Jesus Christ.  Now that would be something worth boasting about.


Thursday, August 24, 2023

Serving and Served - the true Christian Life

See Luke 22:24-30

As Max Bygraves used to say, “I wanna tell you a story”.  I picked this one up on Facebook, recently, and it touched me….

When I asked my 11-year-old son to help me unload dirt from our small pickup into his mother’s new garden boxes, his reaction was typical.

“Ummmm… I’m busy right now,” He said.

He was playing a game on the family laptop, wearing sweat pants and an old T-shirt, lounging on the sofa, feet on the coffee table.

“No you’re not,” I said.

There was a fight, moaning, excuses... the usual.

Moments later, we were next to a wheelbarrow shoveling dirt. He looked at me with flat eyes, his hood up, shoulders slumped, and said, “Why do we have to do this?”

I thought for a moment, because I’ll admit, it was a valid question. Neither of us were all that into flowers or vegetables, or any of the things that would be grown in those garden boxes. But my wife, Mel, loves gardening.

I thought, and he waited, and finally I said, “When you love someone, you serve them.”

I went on, telling him that I want him to grow up to be the kind of man who serves his family, friends, and community.

“This” I said while gesturing to the dirt, and the garden boxes I built the weekend before, and the wheelbarrow and shovel, and the first of many truckloads of dirt we would unload over the next few weeks, “Is what love looks like.”

He didn’t like my answer. I could see it in the way he reluctantly picked his shovel back up.

We finished unloading the dirt. The next day, while I was at work, and the kids and Mel had the day off because it was between terms, Mel sent me a picture.  Mel had picked up another load of dirt and before she had a chance to unload it, Tristan voluntarily started working. When she asked him “why,” he shrugged and said, “Because I love you.”

I’d never been prouder of my son."

That’s a beautiful story isn’t it.  It places service to others, and love for each other, at the core of a family relationship.  And for me, it stands as a model of what service to each other in the Christian family should be too.

Giving service to one another is a core principle of the Christian faith.  It is why all of us ministers, including Bishops, are first ordained as deacons, before anything else.  (The word ‘deacon’ comes from a Greek word that means ‘servant’).  Jesus modelled that same servanthood, not only in giving his life for us, but also by healing, teaching and leading.  Leadership is, in Jesus’ terms, another kind of service.  The best leaders seek nothing for themselves from the job of leading – only the satisfaction of seeing a community move forward.

The word ‘minister’ also points us to this notion of service.  And of course it is used not just of Christian leaders, but also ministers of the Government.  The word implies that the first and greatest duty of all Government leaders is to serve the people who elected them, without fear of favour, and never for personal gain.  Perhaps that is why we are so cross when any minister, in the church or in the government, appears to be feathering their own nest, rather than pouring out their lives in service to others.

The principle of service goes much deeper than just the leaders of the church, however.  It applies to all Christians, at every level of the church.  This idea is exemplified in that lovely hymn ‘Brother, Sister, let me serve you; let me be as Christ to you’.  When the call to service has been heard by every member of a church community, we can have real confidence that the Spirit of God is powerfully at work among us.

But what about those who feel too weak, or too poor, or too sick to offer service?  Does that exclude them from the Christian life of serving and loving others.  Not at all.  I have sat with many a sick person who struggles with the fact that they are no longer well enough to serve others.  They miss the sense of purpose that serving others gave them.  They miss the joy of giving service.  To such people, I always ask a question.  I say “Did you derive pleasure or satisfaction from your acts of service?’.  (They always say yes!).  “Then,” I say “now is your opportunity to let others gain that same sense of pleasure or satisfaction.  Your incapacity, at this point in your life, is your chance to give a gift of vulnerability.  Your vulnerability gives space for others to serve.  It is your gift to them.  Your vulnerability is, in fact, a service you can offer, in itself”.  I usually find that people feel better about themselves after that little talk!

You see, there is something intrinsically powerful in the giving and receiving of service.  When service is offered freely, without cost, and without looking for reward, it can bring surprising reward of its own.  If I sit with a homeless person feeling superior and powerful, with the power to either improve their life or leave them in the same state that I found them, then I have missed the deeper potential of my act of service.  I’ve missed the fact that the homeless person brings to that moment everything they have experienced, all they have learned about themselves, God, and the community.  If I set out only to serve, but not to BE served, I miss what God wants to give me through the transaction of service.  If, however, I sit with the homeless person with an openness to hearing how we can serve each other, then a new and vital relationship is likely to form. 

This is something of the heart of God that I detected in that story I started with.  The young boy, eventually, carried out his act of service out of love for his mother.  But what the story doesn’t explicitly say is that the Mother also served the boy – not least by growing and preparing food in the planters he was filling.  His father served the boy by awakening him to the depth of love he felt for his mother.  Service then, became reciprocal and shared.  The boy served his Mum, his mum served him, the father in the story served them both – and all were bound together in love.

This is something  of what the church means when it talks about the Trinity.  Each member of the Trinity is bound in love to the others.  From that love, service breaks forth – and those acts of service breathe the Universe into life.

Service then is one of the most profound things that a Christian can do.  It is life-giving to the one who receives service, AND to the one who gives it.  Service was at the core of Jesus ministry, and it is at the core of the Christian Way.  So let me leave you with this question:  what service will you offer and receive today?  Amen.

Thursday, August 10, 2023

A rather rocky place on which to build...

 Matthew 16. 13.23 & Numbers 20.1-13

Poor old Peter.  He so often got things wrong didn't he?  He cut off the ear of a guard who was arresting Jesus, and got soundly told off for it.  He failed to keep his eyes on Jesus when walking on the water, and had to be rescued.  He denied Jesus three times before the cock crowed, and had to make amends three times for his sin.  And in today's Gospel reading, Jesus compared him to Satan - because he refused to accept what Jesus was saying about the necessity of his forthcoming death.

And yet, this same, failing, apparently incompetent man is the Rock on whom Jesus said he would 'build his church'.  This same, failing, apparently incompetent man is the one to whom Jesus gave the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven - as depicted in the stained glass image of Peter to the right of our High Altar.

Peter gives me hope.  Because whilst I know you all think I am totally infallible and incapable of error (!), I know different.  I know that inside the charade of competence that I show to the world, I'm actually a complete mess.  Much of the extended time off that I had last year was a result of me not being quite so well put-together as I had thought. 

I think Jesus called Simon Peter 'the Rock' as a bit of a joke.  It would have been more like calling him ‘Rocky’ than ‘the Rock’.  The evidence of the Gospels is that Peter was anything but the steady, dependable type of person which the title of 'Rock' suggests.  He was flaky, he changed his mind a lot, he got the wrong end of the stick, frequently.  I think that when Jesus called Simon 'Rocky' for the first time, he had a great big grin on his face.  It would like someone describing me as 'skinny'!

This understanding of Peter should serve to give all of us hope.  Let's notice that Jesus said 'on this rock I will build my church'.  The growth of the church does not rely on me, thank God.  It does not rely on you - even though many of you are brilliant at building the Kingdom, in lots of different ways.  The growth of the church, and the work of the Kingdom, is Jesus' sacred task.  It is Jesus who will build his church.  Not me, not you, not even the amazing Sandra!  It's Jesus.  He is the author and perfector of our faith.  And he is the architect and master-builder of the church.

This, incidentally, is the lesson of our Hebrew Bible reading of today, from the Book of Numbers.  We saw Moses doing miraculous signs, by striking a rock with his staff and casuing water to gush forth.  Of course, it wasn’t Moses who performed this miracle, it was God, acting through Moses…a man who himself was anything but perfect.  He had murdered an Egyptian soldier, taking the law into his own hands.  And, later he had lost trust in God’s ability to deliver the Israelites from the desert.  For his failures, God said that it would not be Moses who would lead the people into the promised land…quite a punishment after a lifetime of speaking for God and leading the people.  But surely, God’s point was that it was God who was leading the people.  It was God who was building a nation, not Moses.  These were to be the people of God, not the people of Moses…and yet, God used Moses, another ‘rocky’ individual, to bring about his purposes.

What does this mean for us, in practical terms?  It means, perhaps, returning to a modern cliche which has lost some of its currency and power in recent years, through over-use and parody.  But I think this cliche still has value.  I'm talking about the old saying 'What would Jesus do?' - expressed on the wristbands and necklaces of thousands of young Christians in the 1980s.  Incidentally, in those days, my daughter used to wear a t-shirt with the phrase ‘who would Jesus bomb?’ which is a very thought-provoking question. 

‘What would Jesus do?’ is a pretty easy question to ask, in every situation, isn't it?  And its still an important question to ask of any effort new effort to 'build the church'.  If any church, and especially our little corner of the church, is to be built by Jesus (as he promised), then it needs to be built on the principles Jesus lived and taught.

When we consider the benefits of the latest money-making wheeze, let's ask 'What would Jesus do?'  That's what our PCC did a couple of years ago, when we turned down an offer to join to 'Postcode Lottery'.  We believed that fundraising via a professional gambling syndicate wasn't what Jesus would do. 

When we are thinking about where to focus our small resources of time and money, what do we ask?  'What would Jesus do?'   How much time do we spend on administration, versus how much time we spend directly engaging with our neighbours in need?  The question helps us to find some balance.  How much of the money God has blessed us with, individually, do we spend on ourselves, on our comfort, on our recreation – and how much do we give for the task of building God’s church?  Because, while it is God who does the building, he does so only in co-operation with ‘rocky’ individuals like me and you.

And it's a great maxim to apply in our personal lives, too. 

Someone has upset me.  Should I rage, or forgive? 'What would Jesus do?'. 

I've inherited a lot of money.  Should I hoard it, or use it generously for the Kingdom?  'What would Jesus do?'. 

I think you get the point.

The Rock on which Jesus builds his church is not one man, from 2,000 years ago.  It's every person who serves Jesus as Lord, and follows his ways.  Jesus said he could build his church on pretty messed up guy called Simon Peter.  But Peter (and Moses before him) stands for you and for me.  Jesus can build his church on anyone who is willing to let him use them and lead them, however much we fail, in the sacred task of building the Church of God.  Amen.    

Saturday, August 5, 2023

Coming down the Mountain

 Luke 9.28-36 - The Mount of Transfiguration


Have you ever had a mountaintop experience?  You know, one of those experiences that blows your mind - something you'll always remember?  I've had a few.  I've been at fantastic worship events, where emotion has overwhelmed me.  I've been at family celebrations, which I will always remember.  And I've had literal mountain-top experiences - breathing in the cool air and amazing views at the top of various hills and peaks.  I’ve had some strange experiences too – like the time I climbed Glastonbury Tor to find a bunch of naked hippies dancing in a circle!  That made quite an impression on the 10 year old me!

Weddings are mountain-top experiences.  For weeks, months, or even years (sometimes) people look forward to their wedding day.  Everything has to be perfect...the music, the dress, the cake, the's all vitally important.  And then, at the wedding I well find yourself caught up into one of those mountaintop experiences.  Your senses are in over-drive - sound, sight, smell, hearing, touch...all are at peak efficiency.  You become determined to drink in every moment.

But you have to come down the mountain again. The next day, there are bills to be paid, journeys to be made.  New wives discover that their new husbands have smelly feet!  And new husbands discover that their beautiful new wife now wants to stop them drinking and introduce them to couscous!  Reality comes flooding in, and life has to be faced again.

Our Gospel story today is of just one such mountain-top experience.  The disciples find themselves caught up in an event which underscores the whole ministry of Jesus.  There is a view back through history - as Jesus meets with people who have been part of the story of the past...Moses and Elijah, and is affirmed by them.  And then there's a peering into the future, as God's voice from heaven confirms again who Jesus is, and the importance of his mission. "This is my son, the Chosen One...listen to him!"

The disciples who have accompanied Jesus to the mountain-top are having the time of their lives. They don't want to leave...and they even suggest building shelters for Jesus, Elijah and Moses.  They seem to want to capture the moment, and stay in it forever.  But the thing about mountain-top experiences is - you have to come down from them again.  Discipleship involves following, and going on.

Today, we have heard Luke’s account of the ‘Transfiguration’.  Scholars believe that it is based on Mark’s account - because they are remarkably similar, and Mark is believed to be the earliest gospel.  Mark places this story in a pivotal is dead centre at the middle of his 16 chapters.  Before the Transfiguration, Mark deals with Jesus’ ministry around Galilee - his teachings and his miracles.  Then comes the Transfiguration - Elijah, Moses and even the voice of God meeting with Jesus - strengthening him for what is to come.  Then, in Mark’s narrative, Jesus sets his face towards Jerusalem...towards challenge, torture and death.

Mountain-top experiences are part of life - and they are often part of the life of faith.  Some people spend their whole lives trying to regain such experiences.  When I was about 14, I had a powerful experience of the Holy Spirit during a time of worship at a mission in Torquay.  Now, I tend to see that experience as a powerful emotional reaction to the event itself: the music, the excited people and the powerful preaching.  But for years afterwards, I tried to re-capture that moment – drifting from church to church in search of the same feeling I had experienced that one time. 

But faithfulness, I learned, is not achieved by freezing a moment of time...and trying to live in it forever – the way Peter tried to do by offering to build shelters. Faithfulness, and true discipleship, is achieved by following-on in confidence that God is leading...and that what lies ahead is even greater than what we have already experienced.  You have to come down the mountain again...and take what has been seen, learned and experienced on with you...on into the journey.

My hope is that our Sunday services are mini-mountain-top experiences.  They are a moment in the week when we experience God together, and through each other.  They are a couple hours in the week when we climb the mountain, and look beyond ourselves, beyond our day-to-day lives, and briefly touch the face of God.

But we have to come down the mountain.  We have to keep following on...following God into our every-day lives...taking what we have said, done and experienced with us.  We allow our worship, the words we say, the actions we do, to permeate our daily lives...colouring them, perfuming them.  Because of our mini-mountaintop experience we somehow live lives that are more infused with meaning, more alert to what God is doing in our lives, and through us in the lives of others.

The mountain-top of religious experiences is not where the Kingdom is found.  It is spoken of there, it is preached about there.  It is encouraged and prayed for there.  But it is found when you come down the mountain.  It’s not about the Sunday’s about the daily service...the giving of service to our families, our co-workers, our friends and our neighbours.  Inspired at the mountain-top, we go back into the valley to bring the light of Christ to everyone we meet.  Just as Jesus left the mountain and then set his face towards Jerusalem, healing and teaching along the way, so we too are called from this mountain top out into the world.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been exploring some of the metaphors of the Kingdom, in Jesus’ parable. Jesus compares the Kingdom to small things:  a mustard seed, a grain of wheat, a pinch of salt.  Jesus encourages us to look for the Kingdom in the small things we do in his name.  The Kingdom is found in the kind word, or the genuine smile of greeting.  It is found in the gift to a refugee, or the honest completion of a tax return.  It is found in the committed and regular giving to God’s work through the church.  It is found in the act of turning up, week by week, to encourage one another with our singing and our prayers.  It is found in the forgiveness offered to those who have wronged us.  It is found in the lifting of a burden from another’s shoulders.

At the very end of this service I will use these words: “Go, in peace to love and serve the Lord”.  When you hear those words, take a moment.  As the procession exits the church, marking the end of our worship, and while Peter plays a voluntary, take that moment to ask yourself this question:  “Jesus left the mountaintop to sacrifice himself for the World.  As I leave this mini-mountaintop today, what sacrifice can I offer, what service can I render, how can I play my part in bringing the Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven?”  Amen.

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

The Search for Wisdom

Matthew 13.47–53

I want us to think this morning about the importance of wisdom.  This morning’s gospel brings to a close a series of readings we’ve been considering about the Kingdom.  Jesus ends his parables with a rather enigmatic phrase.  He says, ‘every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old’.  Jesus is telling his disciples that the wise teacher of faith will use the best of the old knowledge, and combine it with the new, in the task of bringing the Kingdom to pass. Wisdom requires the acquisition and then the wise use of knowledge, both past and present, old and new.

               A key theme of Matthew’s Gospel is that Jesus is the living, breathing personification of Divine Wisdom.    The Hebrew Bible often sings hymns of praise to Divine Wisdom, and, often, wisdom is given a personality.  Take for example, these lines from the first chapter of the book of Proverbs:

Wisdom cries out in the street;

in the squares she raises her voice - {…}

‘How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?

How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing

and fools hate knowledge?

               I find these lines encouraging.  They remind me that teachers and writers throughout the ages have always despaired of reluctant human beings are to embrace wisdom.  Just like I do.  I despair of the flat earthers, for example, who in the face of overwhelming evidence continue to insist the earth is flat – because the Bible says it has ‘corners’.  I despair of biblical literalists, who insist that the Bible should be read literally.  They fail to understand the genre or different biblical writings, and they discount the work of scholars and commentators, with much greater knowledge.  To give a specific example of what I mean, consider the Creation Story.  We know now, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the world was not created in six days, as one of the creation stories of Genesis suggests.  What are we to do with this knowledge?  Do we throw out the whole Bible, because one of its stories has moved from being read as history towards being understood as myth?  No, of course we don’t.  The wise scribe (as Jesus says) is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is old and what is new.  The old – that is the Genesis story of creation – is enriched by the new – that is the findings of science.  It morphs from being inaccurate history, into beautiful and poetic metaphor, teaching us that God is the hand and the power behind the Universe.

Outside of the world of Scripture, by the way, I also despair at those who still refuse to believe that human-made climate change is real!

Human beings have always been subject to spin, fake news, and they have always acted on instinct, rather than fact.  Fools have always hated knowledge.  Perhaps this is because they worry that accepting such knowledge would mean a big change in their life and lifestyle.  Fools detest change, instinctively.  And they have always scoffed at those who do put in the hard work to find out what is true and good and right.  ‘What do these scientists know?’.  ‘Theologians?  Pah!’

               Four and a half centuries before Jesus, there was a famous man in Greece, called Plato.  He was a philosopher – a word made up of two Greek words, ‘philia’, meaning love; and ‘sofia’ meaning wisdom.  A philosopher, then, is simply someone who loves wisdom.    Plato had a tremendous impact on his time, and in the centuries afterwards.  His thinking was widely known, and often quoted.  I would be extremely surprised if Jesus had never heard of him.

               Plato offered the World a simple metaphor for the accumulation of wisdom…the metaphor of a cave.  Imagine, he said, that you were born in a cave, facing the wall.  And that this is the only life you had ever known.  On the wall of the cave in front of you were shadows of things which you believed were real.  Trees, houses, people. This was your whole life.  A tree was just a shadow of a tree.  A house was just a shadow of a house.

               Imagine, then, said Plato, that one day something made you turn around.  To your surprise, you found that there are people standing behind you, who are holding up wooden silhouettes of the trees, the houses, and the people.  Suddenly, your eyes have been opened.  You realise that there is a cause of the shadows.  Your whole world-view has shifted.

               Then, said Plato, imagine that you notice the daylight, shining behind the people with the silhouettes.   Your enquiring mind has been awakened…and so you make your way to the entrance of the cave.  And then, stepping into the sunlight, you find our exactly what a real tree looks like, and a real house, and real people.

               The Cave, suggested Plato, is a metaphor for the quest for Wisdom on which we are all invited.  It is a way of life, which anyone can follow, and it is a component part of Way of Jesus.  And it is a prize worth selling everything you own to possess – just like the pearl of great price, or the treasure hidden in the field of Jesus’ parables.

               But isn’t Jesus talking about the Kingdom of Heaven, not wisdom per se?  Well, yes.  But, the Kingdom of Heaven is first and foremost a place in which Divine Wisdom reigns supreme. 

               It is Divine Wisdom, for example, which teaches us that in giving things away, we accumulate great wealth. 

               It is Divine Wisdom which teaches us that forgiveness is the only way to deal with hatred.

               It is Divine Wisdom which teaches us that God’s voice is often best heard in silence.

               It is Divine Wisdom which teaches us that it is servants who make the best leaders.

               It is Divine Wisdom which gives us a King who has a Cross as his throne.

The Kingdom of Heaven is an upside down place.  There is almost nothing in the Kingdom which feels normal to a society which values hatred, greed, the accumulation of stuff, fake news, celebrity, and worldly power.  That’s why it is such a hard message to communicate to the world.

Wisdom cries out in the street;

in the squares she raises her voice - {…}

‘How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?

How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing

and fools hate knowledge?