by Pr. Elizabeth Rawlings
Proverbs 1 20:33
Now I know not everyone uses the semi-continuous readings, but if you can at all use this reading USE THIS READING. I mean, you could really just read this and then sit down and stare at people.
Wisdom is a black woman.
That’s what I kept thinking as I read this reading from Proverbs.
Black women have been telling us. They’ve been telling us about issues from poverty to failing schools to violence to maternal mortality rates to the 2016 presidential election (in which 95% of black women voted for Hillary Clinton because they knew what was about to happen).
But we (I write this as a white woman, so white folk, especially white women, I’m talking to us) haven’t been listening.
The voices of black women have been discounted by the powerful, the privileged, white people, etc. and American society is now reaping the punishment of not listening to their wisdom. And now, far too many of us are asking us to save them and they have every right to react at Wisdom does and sit at the gates to the city and watch our destruction. But because our fates are intertwined, because no one is free until everyone is free, they keep teaching, keep speaking, keep fighting and it would do us well to listen. To sit and listen and learn. To put our sensitivities and reaction (our white tears) in a space that will hold them and be open to feedback, to new information, and to the prospect that we might actually need to change. Can we have the braveness to preach this, or something like this? Can we preach about setting aside our privilege, putting down what we have, and listening, so that we might carry a cross? Can we preach about the importance of listening to the voices of wisdom we have long ignored?
We are enamored with foolishness. We have somehow come to a point in our national life where facts and knowledge mean nothing in the face of prejudice and fear. We have become people who hate knowledge. If you are on twitter, you should follow historian Kevin Kruse (also follow black women to see the wisdom the dole out and the ignorance and hate they deal with) to see the people who argue with him. He’ll throw out source material and people will throw him a meme or a video from youtube. Can we become a people who value wisdom? Can we become people who value hard won wisdom gained through life and the knowledge of people who spend their lives researching a topic? If not, scripture tells us, we will be the victims of our own folly.
Isn’t it nice when pop culture and scripture, especially scripture we have likely read a million times, collide? Last week Nike rolled out its 30th anniversary for its Just Do It campaign with an amazing ad featuring Colin Kaepernick. The ad reads, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
We as Christians have come SO FAR from understanding what sacrifice means. Somehow, the idea of sacrificing your life in the name of love has been supplanted by being “nice.” To be a Christian in America in 2018 is to say nice things about people, to be well-behaved, to not make a fuss.
What are our people willing to give up for the greatest commandment? What are we willing to sacrifice in the name of love of God & love of neighbor? Moreover, what is the cost of NOT being willing to sacrifice in the name of God? What is the cost to our psyche (the word we translate as soul/life) if we are constantly building up our power, our possessions, our material lives? What is the cost to the world, to our siblings, if our primary focus is ourselves and how we are going to get by? What is it that Christ is asking us to do.
This week is full of challenge -- scriptures that his the false gospel of Christian empire flat in the face (as well as scriptures that we have heard and read so many times it is hard to come up with something new). Go at it. Those of us with power and privilege need a regular reminder that our call as Christians is to set our mind on things that are of value to God, not that which we value.
Blessings on your journey with the Word this week.