Wisdom has built her house,
she has hewn her seven pillars.
She has slaughtered her animals, she has mixed her wine,
she has also set her table.
She has sent out her servant-girls, she calls
from the highest places in the town,
“You that are simple, turn in here!”
To those without sense she says,
“Come, eat of my bread
and drink of the wine I have mixed.
Lay aside immaturity, and live,
and walk in the way of insight.”
Here is what I love about wisdom literature and the personification of God as Wisdom in Hebrew scripture. She is available to everyone.
Religions tend to become exclusive, even if they don’t start that way. We for example follow a dude who hung out with sex workers, homeless folks, outcasts, traitors, and the moist hoity-toity of goodie-two-shoes (Jesus had zero standards). But even we, over the last two thousand years after initially flinging wide the doors, have fallen for the exclusivity thing. We’ve got rules about who can participate in certain sacraments, what makes us a real Christian or not, who is or isn’t saved.
All while Wisdom shouting from the rooftops: y’all come!
I love her.
Wisdom doesn’t play by our rules, she does not save the best places at the table for the rich, or the educated. She does not worry about what group you belong to. She doesn’t seem to care about much of anything other than laying out a banquet at which all are welcomed and fed.
And she’s got no use at all for human things like money, economies, or worth. In other appearances by wisdom she offers her food and drink without price. It’s all free, come and get it.
Everything Wisdom (God) does flies in the face of how the world we’ve put together works.
Wisdom shows up in some of the accounts of creation in Wisdom literature, there she is God’s first creation and it is through her that the foundations of the world are laid and everything comes to be. Which sort of implies that the world is founded on this y’all come attitude.
What if our lives aren’t about a destination, but about continually turning into Wisdom’s gates and accepting her invitation to a feast? Wisdom doesn’t condemn the simple, foolish humans around her dwelling. She invites them in, over and over again.
Everlasting life, the sort that Jesus talks about today in John was never meant to be about some after death reward for good behavior. What Jesus was offering to people was life lived as it was meant to be, at it’s fullest and most human in the midst of their lives.
Despite the rather problematic wording in John’s story (after all, Jesus and his followers are just as Jewish as John’s “the Jews”) this wasn’t a new thing. It has been the call for the Jewish people since Sinai: to live into the fullness of God’s sacred creation, to live like we believe the Genesis story.
Wisdom’s house is build with the strong timbers of God’s presence. Her tables are overflowing with the rich blessings of a good creation. And she waits to welcome human beings in out of the cold.
Remember: when this was written there was no doctrine of Original Sin and wouldn’t be for nearly a thousand years. Wisdom does not offer scraps to sinners. She offers to God’s children the rich banquet that is our inheritance. She offers them the fullness of life that Jesus offers in John.
This of course has been God’s invitation all along. From angels dressed as strangers, and burning bushes. Gnosticism (probably the still most popular heresy) claims that we are all lost and blind and need to have special wisdom revealed to us (usually by a guru of some sort). Wisdom laughs at such nonsense.
The wisdom of God is laid out in front of us for the taking.
It is simple as bread, and wine.
It is lavish as a groaning banquet table.
It is present and real here and now and has been and will be in every time and place.
When I first began my ministry as a chaplain in San Antonio I was incredibly nervous. One of the wise Irish Catholic nuns pulled me aside looked me in the eye and said: “Do not be afraid, you do not have to bring God into any of the situations you are called to. God has always been there. You are just a witness.”
Wisdom has always been here. She does not care who you are, she does not care what you think you’ve done. She only cares about your RSVP.
There is a beautiful prayer in the Jewish tradition said in the morning that thanks God that God over night did not finally grow tired of us and stop speaking the words of creation which sustain all that is.
We live, and move, and have our being because God is still speaking us into existence. And the doors of the house of eternal life are wide open inviting us to come in, to come home and to stay there for good. All the rest, is as they say, details.