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Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be alway acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength and my redeemer.

Good Morning!

We return to you, Nancy and I, refreshed and enlivened by the Synod we attended! It was a great time of learning and of fellowship, a chance to see friends and to make new ones.

It was a time to learn the business of the church, the ways in which laity and clergy combine to make the Body of Christ progress in this fallen world.

As I read and meditated on the readings for this week, and watched as Synod unfolded, I noticed a common theme that I wanted to share.

That theme is practical wisdom.

Starting with the psalm we read today, Psalm 10, we note that psalmist is lamenting that God has abandoned him. What he marvels at through the psalm is how God stands apart and does nothing, and the wicked men are described as vividly, openly mocking God.

But how is this wisdom? – the psalmist is whining about poor treatment – how might that fit any kind of practical wisdom we would find. Let’s face it – this is not an example anyone would really want to keep.

However, consider this – from God’s restraint, and the actions described, we learn more about those we see as evil. I understand to those of us who have been the brunt of such things, that seems pretty unfair.

Sadly, that’s how we learn that we don’t trust men, since they do these horrible things, but by this we are taught the practical wisdom to turn to God and to trust Him.

Next, our reading was from the book of Ecclesiasticus, which is known as Sirach, or the Wisdom of Ben Sira.

Sirach is best known as another volume of Proverbs. The wisdom, and there is a great deal therein, is clear and evident today. From the book of Proverbs, and from Sirach, we can speak to our friends and families and say, “See – just like people today. “

As Solomon states in Ecclesiastes 1:9, and I quote quite often– There is NOTHING new under the sun. We can read these truths thousands of years later and they still are too valid.

Then, in our last reading, from the second epistle of St Paul to Timothy, we see the apostle advising Timothy in his ministry. As with many of us who are ‘learning the ropes’ regarding clerical ministry, we sometimes need to be taught through direct verbal example. Practical wisdom is what he is dispensing here, as in verse 23, where he warns Timothy not to engage in ‘foolish or ignorant disputes, knowing they generate strife.’

Timothy was in active ministry, and at a distance from his mentor. The letters were his instruction and his guidebook. He was in new territory in a lot of ways and, while he had a great deal of faith in God, he needed Paul’s steady, practical hand to guide him. This guidance was delivered through these epistles.

In life, which is a ministry for all believers, we need such direction, from the Holy Ghost, and from each other.

I learned a lot about practical wisdom this weekend.

Synod is all about the practical - budgets and numbers and results of the last year. We have a strong, very sensible leadership team, with years of that practical wisdom I mention.

This can be seen in the budgeting, but also in things as different as, to whom certain contributions are going to go to from a charity drive,(in this case, to support a striving seminarian) to a class run that discussed how to repair your own vestments.

We have such amazing gifts within the laity of this diocese, and we have many who share these gifts on committees and in volunteer work. These are the ones that use the practical gifts that God has given them to further that mission of the Church in concert with the clergy who teach and preach from God’s word.

Another bit of practical wisdom is the theme of the Synod this year – “Unity in Jesus Christ”. We all realize that people work best when they are working as a united front, moving forward with a common goal. This was mentioned several times with regard to ministry within the diocese, but also mentioned as where we are bound as Christians overall, when we come together with other provinces and churches, such as the Anglican Province of America, where the keynote speaker at Synod serves as bishop.

Unity in purpose, in Christ, is practical wisdom simply because we can look back on what happened two thousand years ago– The world was changed by a tiny minority with a united mission – to lift high the Cross and move the Church ahead.

In application, practical wisdom is a blessing, a God-given gift that is like common sense, something we would hope was everywhere.

The problem is, nowadays common sense isn’t so common, and wisdom from others’ experiences are discounted so often by the younger and less experienced in the world.

When we can show appreciation for these gifts, and teach, through actions and words, that practical wisdom is truly important, we can show our effectiveness in growing ministries and strong outreach. They serve as excellent examples and teaching tools to show the world.

The bishop mentioned several times that ‘the diocese is strong’-- it is, truly, because we move forward together, rejoicing in and building on what gifts we have each been given by the Father.

 

GRANT, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that the words which we have heard this day with our outward ears, may, through thy grace, be so grafted inwardly in our hearts, that they may bring forth in us the fruit of good living, to the honour and praise of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen .

Charlie Niemi

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