The obvious theme running through all 4 RCL (Revised Common Lectionary) readings this week is Wisdom.
From wise sayings(Proverbs 1:20-33 and James 3:1-12) through to being told where wisdom comes from( in Mark 8: 27-38 and the Psalm 19), there is a wide choice of material to exegite and think about.
Due to Feminist Theology the feminine expression of God, Sophia is more widely recognised and used by mainstream theologies. Thus the female voice of Proverbs 1 will have been identified and stressed from many pulpits today. Feminist Theology like Child Theology is an offshoot of Liberation Theology. Whereas with Child Theology we see the text through the child, feminist Theology opens our eyes to the feminine in the text, or to the lack of the feminine.
Now all of these texts, do not refer to children, but we can still find the child or in this case the ommission of the childs voice in the text.
Before we wonder about where that voice might be, or why it might be missing, I want to turn your attention to another issue. As long as I have been listening, I have heard exclusively of the moral message, especially in James 3:1-12, that creeps in whenever we have a Wisdom text. It is as if we can not exam God’s Word without our own agenda. How to be GOOD. As soon as we start moralising the text we make it a weapon upon which people can be divided as Good or Bad. By doing this we are left in a rather unfortunate situation when we look at Peter in the Mark reading. He is definately rebuked, that would possibly make him rejected and yet those of us who have read the Bible on numereous occassions would know that he became the foundation of the church. Children and those coming to the story for the first time, when approaching this passage as a moral teaching may feel that they are inadequate, less of a child of God, but Peter should reassure them not condem them that we all need to understand Jesus’s teachings more fully.
The fault is not in the passage but the way we approach a passage such as this.
If instead we appraoch this and the other wisdom sayings in today’s readings as starting points of discussion, we would all still be learning but we would be bringing ourselves, we would be being shown how to have a lifelong interation with the text, and we would have an awareness of the way that others may understand this passage diferently to ourselves.
We don’t need to make it a moral lesson for us to learn and grow in faith from these passages. That is not to say that we may make moral understanding from them but rather that we will hear a greater richness from them.
In one of Renata Weems book she outlines how she understands the Jews to use these readings as starting points of discussion. If we follow this understanding from Jesus’s expereience than it is not difficult to see that using that form of teaching rather than a stated outcome type of learning might help us to engage more richly in the text.
At present I am rereading Godly Play by Jerome Berryman, when I look at his method for experiencing Biblical texts and faith practices,I find a way of teaching that also allows us to enter the text in a richer way. It allows for the child to find their own understanding, God’s wisdom, from the text, without an agenda overlay (ie such as a moral lesson).
Anyone who has taught Godly Play, or really just taught children will know that moment when God’s Wisdom shines through the child, when they express or crystalise a thought that they have either been grappling with or just come to see. I love those moments, they are the ones that bring me great joy, becasue even if I don’t see something new, I see something of God in them, and it is amazing.
Before I finish I’d just like to share where I found the omited child’s voice in today’s readings? Psalm 19 reminds us to find wisdom in the world around us, and James reminds us all that we are children of God, there is nothing to quantify wisdom s being attached to the chronological ages but rather it is found in searching for God and is from God. Open to all.