Looking through the Cross – Wisdom
After you have listened to the Sermon audio above, take your time to read through the rest of this page. Pause and reflect at your own pace. We can worship at any time and anywhere. Know that others will be joining you...
Cross shaped churches may be the architectural norm – but they are also the spiritual exception.
(Most Rev and Right Honourable Justin Welby, in Foreword to, Looking through the Cross, pX)
Their [sophists] thought might be poisonous as long as it was enveloped in honeyed words.
(William Barclay, The New Daily Bible Study: The Letters to the Corinthians. p24)
If ever there was an argument for Atheism, the crucifixion of Jesus is it.
(Graham Tomlin, Looking through the Cross, p24)
Therefore once more I will astound these people
...with wonder upon wonder;
the wisdom of the wise will perish,
...the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.’
"Their injunctions are like this. ‘Let no one educated, no one wise, no one sensible draw near. For these abilities are taught by us to be evils. But as for anyone ignorant, anyone stupid, anyone uneducated, anyone who is a child, let him come boldly.’ By the fact they themselves admit that these people are worthy of their God, they show that they want and are able only to convince the foolish, dishonourable and stupid, and only slaves, women and little children.”
(Celsus, quoted by Origen, Contra Celsum III. 44, around 1800 years ago)
“The best theology begins and ends in silence. It begins in silence as we stop our idle chattering and listen to what God has to say… it also ends in silence, as when we begin to glimpse the greatness, the mercy, the wisdom of God, there is not much we can say in return, apart from to wonder and worship.”
(Graham Tomlin, Looking through the Cross, p31)
The fear of the Lord, is the beginning of wisdom.
‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’
But who is this Lord? And what does it mean to fear him?
Well, if we go back to the start of the Psalm, the Psalmist takes us through some of God’s attributes, praising him as he does.
How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. (v2)
God is a creator and worker, active in his world every day.
Stop and ‘ponder’ about some of the deeds of the Lord, think about them and thank him for them.
Everything he does reveals his glory and majesty. His righteousness never fails. (v3)
God is righteous, he is perfect in all of his ways.
Pause and give God praise that his righteousness can always be relied upon.
How gracious and merciful is our Lord! (v4)
In light of God’s righteousness, we know that we fall short. If there’s something from the past week that has been weighing on you, some way you feel you’ve failed or acted ungraciously, take a moment to ask God’s forgiveness (and to consider if there’s anyone else you need to say sorry to). Then reflect on God’s endless grace and mercy. He’s the Father standing with open arms, ready to welcome you back, even if it’s for the millionth time.
He has paid a full ransom for his people. He has guaranteed his covenant with them forever. What a holy, awe-inspiring name he has! (v9)
He is a God of integrity who keeps his promises. He is an incredible God who has done amazing things for us.
Write a list of words that describe your incredible God!
Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom. All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom. (v10)
This is the Lord we are to fear, and this is how we are to fear him. By recognising all that he is; his greatness, justice, goodness, power, glory… and holding him in an awe-filled regard.
And in this place of true worship and adoration, we find the starting point for wisdom. Getting the right perspective on God and putting him in the right place in our lives, is what underpins and grows a life of wisdom. Spend some time meditating on other parts of Psalm 111, asking God to give you a renewed vision of his glory, and to, in turn, grow God-given wisdom in your life.
(Contributed by ML Clipston)
Lord God, as giver of all that is good and right in this world, we thank you. As our teacher and guide, we thank you. As counsellor and healer, we thank you. Forgive us, Lord, for the times we forget you or neglect you; for the times we fail to live according to your commands, for we know within our hearts that you work for the good of all who love you and call you Lord.
We, the world over, are on a steep learning curve at the moment. Many are unsure of the future; employment is threatened as never before, food banks are busier than ever before, education from nursery to university level is on hold and international travel is virtually non-existent. America is on fire with rage over racial discrimination and in the midst of all this people still face the trials of everyday life.
‘For the joys and for the sorrows…...for this we have Jesus’. These are words that confirm the message of Pentecost and are reassuring for the world today, for throughout these difficult days the sun still shines. Thank you, Father, for the calls from friends and family who keep in touch to make sure all is well, thank you for neighbours, helpers and carers, thank you for every act of kindness expressed either professionally or personally. As viruses and recession do not recognise any boundaries, rich from poor, employed from unemployed, schooled from unschooled, we surely need Jesus. Thank you for Him.
So, Lord God, help us to appreciate all blessings that come our way. Give hope to the hopeless; love to those who feel unloved; food to the hungry; and shelter to those who need it. We ask that you will give the comfort and the peace your word promises to all who mourn the passing of a loved and valued family member or friend. Use us, Lord. Let us speak with your words and feel with your heart and bring forward the day when a hug can say a thousand words to those who long for your touch.
Lord, as we pray for the world and the problems that beset it, we must also remember the place and the church in which you have placed us. None are here by accident. Each has a role, each has a journey, and each has a destination. You see no status or rank but you do see into hearts. May we remember our city as difficult days lie ahead as our council faces up to the added expenditure of recent months, possibly affecting local services, and in a similar fashion we think of our nations and all that lies ahead for them.
We pray for our church here at Newhills and for the world church. May we follow the path you have planned for the mission of Newhills, helping us to step out on this part of our journey with you. For Jonny and ML this must class as one of the most unusual introductions to full-time ministry. Bless them as they find new and fascinating ways of sharing their faith with us. May they find great joy in your service and with us.
For this and so much more we have Jesus.
We pray in his name,
(Contributed by Kathy Shepherd)
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgements,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
‘Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counsellor?’
‘Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay them?’
For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory for ever! Amen.
Thank you to all who contributed to this page.
Please contact Jonny (JClipston@churchofscotland.org.uk) if you would like to be involved in future weeks.