Holy Trinity Sunday Confirmation Sunday May 22, 2016
Aubrianna and Jeanette I know that your families travel. I’ve heard of some of your adventures. So this morning I’m going to make a suggestion of a city to visit, if you haven’t been.
Rome. And when in Rome go to the Vatican City. Once inside the city gates, find your way to the Sistine Chapel, and look up at the ceiling. There you will find a world famous painting by Michelangelo entitled, The Creation of Adam.
It shows the finger of God reaching out to touch the finger of Adam. God touching humanity. Heaven meeting earth.
But if you look closer at the painting you will see a woman embraced within God’s left arm. Through the years it has been assumed that this woman is Eve. But many scholars will argue that the woman is Sophia, or Lady Wisdom. This woman is the feminine personification of the divine in the Old Testament.
Now Jeannette and Aubrianna, having three years of Confirmation and instruction in Luther’s Small Catechism, could explain to us the 2nd Article of the Apostles Creed. It speaks to the 2nd Person of the Holy Trinity. We name this second person “Son,” or “Redeemer.” But mostly we name this person “Jesus.” “I believe in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord.”
But this morning I’m going to stretch our understanding of this 2nd Person of the Trinity.
I know Aubrianna and Jeanette can handle this. As 6th graders, just starting out in Confirmation, I was impressed how these two spoke up in class. They had good questions, they had deep questions, and they had questions that I sometimes couldn’t answer.
So this morning let me ask a question of my own. Could this woman embraced by God’s left arm in Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam, be a feminine 2nd Person of the Holy Trinity?
The reading from Proverbs captivates me this morning.
The text speaks about Wisdom. And if we read the text carefully Wisdom is a person, who is female.
Does not wisdom call, and does not understanding raise her voice?
As we keep reading we hear that wisdom was with God at the beginning of creation.
The Lord created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of long ago.
This sounds to me like John 1.
In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God. And the Word was God.
And of course in John the Word is the male personification of the divine.
He was in the beginning with God.
Biblical scholars tells us that this Hebrew understanding of “Wisdom” in the Old Testament, has been transitioned into the Greek understanding of the “Word” in the New Testament.
This matters, because in a church that has been dominated by men and male imagery for God, Proverbs 8 lifts up this feminine image of God that is known as “Wisdom.”
This morning we read how Wisdom is active and alive in the middle of life.
On the heights, beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand.
Eugene Peterson in The Message translates this verse, “She takes her stand at First and Main.”
Quite simply the text proclaims that through Wisdom God is in the center of life. God’s presence is not bound only in the holy places of this world. But God is present in the public square.
As Wisdom invites to a of faith, so does she invite us to take our faith out to where we live.
Matt Skinner of Luther Seminary says that this Proverbs text invites us to be a theologian. Theology, remember, means simply “thinking about God.”
And Skinner says that theology is not done well in the library. Theology may not even be done well in church. This thinking about God is done best where we live, where we work, where we play, and where we spend our time.
Ok Jeanette and Aubrianna, you’re probably not all that interested in becoming theologians this morning, but in a few moments you are going to be asked to think about God, and what you believe.
I will ask: “Do you intend to continue living in the covenant God made with you? To live among God’s faithful people? To hear God’s word and share in his supper? To proclaim good news in word and deed? And to serve all people striving for peace and justice?”
This really is an invitation to be a theologian, to think about God in the midst of your life.
At the end of Proverbs 8, Wisdom invites us to a life of faith:
And now, my children, listen to me: happy are those who keep my ways. For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord.
Matt Skinner says this feminine presence of the divine invites us to see the world through the lens of God, through the lens of scripture, through the lens of our faith, and through the lens of our relationships with the people at church.
This is what Confirmation is. Aubrianna and Jeannette, you don’t have to be experts on the 2nd Article of the Apostles Creed. But my prayer for you this day is that you can take your experience of these last three years; your faith, your Bible, and the deep questions you asked in class, and the people of this church; take us wherever you go, maybe even Rome someday, and see the world through the lens of God.
Now if you really do get to Rome, there’s one more place I recommend you go, the Catacombs of Priscilla. I haven’t been but this week a colleague spoke about his visit to these catacombs.
He explained how Priscilla was from a prominent, wealthy family in Rome, and also Christian.
People go to this catacomb to view the ornate tombs, but what struck my friend was painting on the wall; a self portrait of Priscilla, wearing an alb, extending her arms in blessing. Priscilla was a pastor.
Throughout history the church has denied leadership positions to women. It is only in my lifetime that women have been ordained in our church. In fact we know many churches still do not allow women to be pastors.
But isn’t it interesting that way back during the Roman Empire, in these ancient catacombs in Rome, we see a woman as pastor.
Does not wisdom call, and does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights, beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand.
Jeanette and Aubrianna, you don’t have to be pastors in order to be theologians.
As smart, intelligent young women like Priscilla; on your Confirmation day, my prayer is for you to be inspired by Lady Wisdom. Think about the feminine image of God. Think about Priscilla standing at the crossroads leading the church. But mostly think about Wisdom and her invitation to think about God wherever you go, and view this world in all its craziness through the lens of faith, that you too may take your stand for God.