Saturday 23 December 2017

Bible Book:

“The LORD created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of long ago (v. 22)

Proverbs 8:22-31 Saturday 23 December 2017

Psalm: Psalm 145:8-21


Reflection on this passage best begins at the end, verses 30-31. Using the alternative phrase “little child” as preferable to “master worker”, a consistent picture is drawn. God, like a father, does his creative work while his first-born child plays with her toys at his feet. God delights in the child at play. The child delights in what God makes. And the crown of God’s creative work is the human family, living within the natural world.

The preceding verses (verses 24-29) celebrate the wonders of the created world in which humans live. The earth is built on foundations, or pillars, rooted in the underworld (verse 29). Its beauty is in its fields, its hills and mountains, and its springs of running water. Beyond are the deep seas and the vast arc of the horizon as seen by every sailor (“he drew a circle on the face of the deep” (v. 27)); and the wide skies and – sometimes – clouds in the sky. (The word “skies” in verse 28 is better translated “clouds”.)

Most of all, stress is given to this insight: God’s ‘child’, created long before the natural world and the human family, is divine Wisdom. And Wisdom delights in the inhabited world because God’s first-created, Wisdom, sets the style for all that follows. So Wisdom sees resonances between what God has made of her and everything else that God creates; and Wisdom rejoices.

This is a marvellous vision from the ancient world, which Christians focus on at Christmas to illuminate the significance of the new-born child Jesus, God’s Wisdom incarnate.

To Ponder

  • The first verse of Sydney Carter’s hymn, ‘I danced in the morning when the world was begun’ (StF 247) captures a lot of the spirit of today’s passage. How, in your experience, are ‘playfulness’ and ‘dance’ best expressed in worship?
  • For Wisdom, substitute ‘meaning’ and ‘purpose’. What poetry, hymns or carols best celebrate for you the coming of Jesus to unveil the meaning of human life and the natural world?
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