Proverbs 8: 22 – 31
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.
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.
Before the mountains had been shaped,
before the hills, I was brought forth—
when he had not yet made earth and fields,
or the world’s first bits of soil.
When he established the heavens, I was there,
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
when he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,
when he assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
then I was beside him, like a master worker;
and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always,
rejoicing in his inhabited world
and delighting in the human race.
When you read this, I guess most of you will be in that post-Christmas period where time often seems to stand still. The festivities are (probably) over, the tree is (probably) looking a bit tired, the prospect of left-over festive food is (probably) not to be welcomed with rapturous joy. So maybe the attraction of dancing with Wisdom to celebrate the dawn of Creation is (probably) not at the forefront of your consciousness at this time.
Those who know me will (probably) be muttering that the prospect of me dancing at any time is not an attractive proposition. They would be right. Even on a beautiful sunny autumn morning like today as I write this piece.
Yet a paean like this one to the place of Wisdom in the creative work of God at the dawn of time, indeed before time itself exploded into being, cannot fail to stir the heart and lift the spirits.
Our Editor has placed this devotion between reflections on the martyrdom of Stephen and the Massacre of the Innocents, reminding us that God reflected on His Creation and saw that it was good, but humanity mars that essential goodness. God’s creation is good, because the creative act was shot through with Wisdom. Humanity mars creation by acting without wisdom. Perhaps Wisdom, the master worker, no longer finds the human race so delightful.
A footnote in the NRSV suggests that an alternative reading of the Hebrew for “master worker” is “little child”. Maybe that reading fits the picture better – a little child rejoicing, delighting, dancing. A little child, the first born of creation. And God will delight.
As I write, school children are on strike, demonstrating against the lack of urgency in tackling climate change. Children embodying Wisdom. Like the Christ-child we have just welcomed.
Creative God, imbue us with wisdom.
Set us up so that we can truly appreciate your creation
and cause us to strive to ensure that we do not mar
that which is good.
Stir us in our lethargy
and help us to dance –
in our minds
if not with our bodies. Amen