Have you ever had a moment when, a certain someone seems to be able to see right through you? And then you know that you can never undo that moment. My wife is good with that. Just a look and she knows.
A comedian wrote: “when I woke up this morning my wife asked, 'Did you sleep good?' I said 'No, I made a few mistakes.” That may sound clever, but is it wisdom. Wisdom seems rather more out of reach.
Choice is supposed to be a wonderful thing, but without wisdom, choice is useless. Privilege is to be in the position of having plenty of choice. But wisdom is the capacity to make good choices. And that’s the challenge for those going away to college this week and for many others.
The thing about prejudice is that there’s just a tiny sliver of truth in it, otherwise we would dismiss it as stupid. But prejudice takes a tiny insight and makes it into a colossal generalization that obscures the complexity, texture and goodness of its object.
At the Versailles Conference in 1919 the allied powers decided peace meant defeating Germany and then keeping it in a straightjacket for as long as possible. Peace meant punishment and constant policing.
At Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 peace meant killing 200,000 people in one stroke. Peace meant destroying and intimidating to a sufficient degree to end war and then making sure your enemy didn’t get hold of the wherewithal to do the same to you.
It’s difficult to articulate the relationship between church and state. Why, because we find it so hard to think constructively, positively and hopefully about the future. Where are we going? It’s also the most difficult question to answer and that’s not just because the future is always unknown. It’s because our political vocabulary has been eradicated of notions of ultimate meaning and purpose.
When the diagnosis is harsh, it’s tempting to go online or run through the stacks at the Library or ask a friend or neighbor and others in the waiting room as to what might work.
It’s no surprise that Jairus, one of the big shots in the synagogue, walks right into our story and says: my daughter is at the point of death. Come and fix her so that she will live. So off he goes and a large crowd followed. You can almost overhear someone in the crowd say “Boy, I’ll be able to tell the grandkids about this.”
I heard a story recently about a young man who left college ten years ago. He went into consulting work on the East Coast. He spent a bit of time on Wall Street, and had a spell out West learning how companies work. Three or four years ago he and a couple of others set up their own company. It was tough at first, but soon it became quite a success. He had a chance to sell it to his original employer, but it meant too much to him to sell so soon.
It was a day of backpacking in the Rocky Mountains. I was in Estates park staying at the YMCA camp. I don’t remember why. It was some program we were doing at Seminary. But I do remember the afternoon hike.
As a newcomer to the Rockies I had been struck by their stark, craggy beauty. But nothing had prepared me for the afternoon we followed a creek trail up the mountain. I could tell we were going higher because I could feel my calves.
Then we climbed up a steep ridge high above our camp.
Have you asked the question asked by the disciples? What is the future going to hold? Often we images in our minds either from the Bible or the futures market, and then look for signs that confirm what we think we know.
Truth be told we have all bought into moments that promise a grasp at what is beyond our control.
Often we remember a dim anxious notion, that these answers are hidden away in the Bible. If only we had the right code to unlock them or the right bible study group.