Wisdom Lessons

Pentecost Season 2019

October 13, 2019 – Proper 23

2 Timothy 2:8-15; Psalm 111; Luke 17:11-19 

Wisdom Lesson: “All is Grace” by Henri Nouwen in Weavings, Nov/Dec 1992

Gratitude in its deepest sense manes to live life as a gift to be received gratefully. But gratitude as the Gospel speaks about it embracing all of life: the good and the bad, the joyful and the painful, the holy and the not so holy. Is this possible in a society where gladness and sadness, joy and sorrow, peace and conflict, remain radically separated? Can we counter the many advertisements that tell us, “You cannot be glad when you are sad, so be happy: buy this, do that, go here, go there and you will have a moment of happiness during which you can forget your sorrow”? Is it truly possible to embrace with gratitude all of our life and not just the good things that we like to remember?... I am gradually learning that the call to gratitude asks us “everything is grace.” When our gratitude for the past is only partial, our hope for a new future can never be full. As long as we remain resentful about things that we wish had not happened, about relationships that we wished had turned out differently, about mistakes we wish we had not made, part of our heart remains isolated, unable to bear fruit in the new life ahead of us. … In a converted heart all of our past can be gathered up in gratitude. … Thanks be to God!

October 6, 2019 – Feast of Saint Francis – Blessing of the Animals

Isaiah 11:6-9; Psalm 8; Mathew 11:25-30

Wisdom Lesson: Saying of Saint Francis of Assisi

“God requires that we assist the animals, when they need our help. Each being (human or creature) has the same right of protection.

“What do you have to fear? Nothing. Whom do you have to fear? No one. Why? Because whoever has joined forces with God obtains three great privileges: omnipotence without power, intoxication without wine, and life without death.

“Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received - only what you have given: a full heart, enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage.”


September 29, 2019 – Proper 21

1 Timothy 6:6-19; Psalm 146; Luke 16:19-31

Wisdom Lesson: “The Poor of New York City” quoted in Context, April 1998

James A. Forbes, Jr., pastor of Riverside Church, wrote this “parable of Utter Impoverishment” upon hearing the Mayor of New York City’s remark that if the poor did not like NYC, he did not care if they would leave.

“And I saw a great exodus from New York City. All the bridges, tunnels, and piers were jammed with the departing poor. As they walked or limped along, they puched their carts of precious little things.

“And when the poor had all departed, God looked around and saw that they who remained in the city not breathed a sigh of relief. They could enjoy their precious little things in peace, without the burden of care for the destitute and the poor.

“Then God in deep sorrow and tender compassion began to gather God’s precious little things so God could journey with those who had been cast from the city.

“And it came to pass that when God had gathered up the sunlight and the rain, the seed bearing earth and the life giving air, God wept over the city and departed, pushing God’s own cart of precious little things.

“And New York City was no more.”

September 22, 2019 – Proper 20

1 Timothy 2:1-7; Psalm 113; Luke 16:1-13

Wisdom Lesson: “Sun” By Mary Oliver

Have you ever seen anything in your life

more wonderful

than the way the sun,

every evening,

relaxed and easy,

floats toward the horizon

and into the clouds or the hills,

or the rumpled sea,

and is gone –

and how it slides again

out of the blackness,

every morning,

on the other side of the world,

like a red flower

streaming upward on its heavenly oils,

say, on a morning in early summer,

at its perfect imperial distance –

and have you ever felt for anything

such wild love –

do you think there is anywhere, in any language,

a world billowing enough

for the pleasure

that fills you,

as the sun

reaches out,

as it warms you

as you stand there,

empty-handed –

or have you too

turned from this world-

or have you too

gone crazy

for power,

for things?

September 15, 2019 – Proper 19

1 Timothy 1:12-17; Psalm 14; Luke 15:1-10

Wisdom Lesson:Sleeping in the Forest” by Mary Oliver. 

I thought the earth remembered me,

she took me back so tenderly,

arranging her dark skirts, her pockets

full of lichens and seeds.

I slept as never before, a stone on the river bed,

nothing between me and the white fire of the stars

but my thoughts, and they floated light as moths

among the branches of the perfect trees.

All night I heard the small kingdoms

breathing around me, the insects,

and the birds who do their work in the darkness.

All night I rose and fell, as if in water,

grappling with a luminous doom. By morning

I had vanished at least a dozen times

into something better.

September 8, 2019 – Proper 18

Jeremiah 18:1-11, Psalm 1; Luke 14:25-33

Wisdom Lesson: “Living Fire” by Dorothy Day in Meditations

“We have to begin to see what Christianity really is, that ‘our God is a living fire; though he slay me, yet I will trust him.’ We have to think in terms of the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount and have this readiness to suffer. “We have not yet resisted unto blood.’ We have not yet loved our neighbor with the kind of love that is a precept to the extent of laying down our own life for him. And our life very often means our money, money that we have sweated for; it means our bread, our daily living, our rent, our clothes. We haven’t shown ourselves ready to lay down our life. This is a new precept, it is a new way, it is the new people we are supposed to become.”


September 1, 2019 – Proper 17

Proverbs 25:6-7; Psalm 112; Luke 14:1, 7-14

Wisdom Lesson: “Humility” by Roger Gottlieb in Tikkun, Vol. 16, No. 1

Humility may mean, at least, the willingness to think twice, to constantly reexamine our beliefs and actions, and to listen very carefully to what others have to say. To develop these virtues we will need religious models of humility, and self-examination, alongside political theories that argue about to whom we should listen and why.”

August 11, 2019 – Proper 14

Isaiah 1:1, 10-20; Psalm 33:12-22; Luke 12:32-40

Wisdom Lesson: “Deep In The Human Heart”  by William L. Wallace

Deep in the human heart

The fire of justice burns;

A vision of a world renewed

Through radical concern.

As Christians we are called

To set the captives free,

To overthrow the evil powers

And end hypocrisy.

This is our task today:

To build a world of peace;

A world of justice, freedom, truth,

Where kindness will increase;

A world from hunger freed,

A world where people share,

Where every person is of worth

And no-one lives in fear.

Taking the step of faith,

We leave the past behind,

And move into the future's world

With open heart and mind.

By grace we work with Christ,

As one community,

To bring new hope and fuller life,

To all humanity.