Saturday, March 13, 2021

Consider the Wisdom of Sophia

 Fourth Sunday Devotional 

The LORD created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of long ago.
Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
And now, my children, listen to me: happy are those who keep my ways.
Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it.
Happy is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors.
For whoever finds me finds life
and obtains favor from the LORD;
but those who miss me injure themselves; all who hate me love death.   
Proverbs 8:22-23, 32-36

One of my favorite Bible stories related to God and Creation is God’s creation of Sophia, the feminine presence of Wisdom. In Proverbs 8, Sophia instructs us to keep her ways of wisdom in order to find life. She also warns us, however, that we will injure ourselves if we miss her. Over the centuries, the dominant culture in the United States has assumed that the more advanced our scientific knowledge and technology, the better off we will be in the future. While technology and scientific advancements certainly have improved the quality of life for many people, humanity is now at a moment where our actions and human advancements are creating ecological and human destruction alongside human-induced climate change.

Photo by David Kepley

Many of us have traded our ancestors’ culture of wisdom and community for the pursuit of knowledge and wealth to the detriment of both the Earth and ourselves. Western Christianity has neglected Sophia for too long, and has even assisted in destroying cultures and communities that keep her wisdom through the evils of colonization, slavery and white supremacy. The good news is that despite these evils, many indigenous peoples and cultures have resisted against this imperial culture to pass down the wisdom of their ancestors. We still have a chance to listen, learn and practice with our indigenous siblings to balance scientific knowledge and technology with indigenous wisdom of and from the Earth. Books such as Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, who uses indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge and the teachings of plants to awaken our relationship to a living Earth, have taught me to find wisdom in the Earth just as it is in Scripture.

We must consider the wisdom of Sophia to let ourselves and the Earth rest on this Sabbath. We must also consider the cross of Christ that has made us children of God where we receive and give in community. God has given us a mother in the Earth, and we must seek wisdom that enhances our relationship to Earth so that she may continue giving life to all humans, animals, and plants. Our churches should not just be marked by the resources and presence of Christ we gain to build churches, but what gifts, time and resources with Christ we give back to the living world.

God of life help us to remember your wisdom in Sophia.
Forgive us of the ways we have neglected her wisdom.
Remind us of our dependent relationship to all people, animals, plants and Earth. Help us to give back the life we have received from your creation.


James Martin is a Master of Divinity student at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. He spent four years prior as a middle school science teacher in Douglas, AZ., and enjoys spending lots of free time in the mountains either camping, hiking, biking, or rock climbing. James hopes to continue working, living, learning and being in community with his siblings in the U.S./Mexico borderlands.

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