but you can’t make him drink!
Scripture reading for Sunday: Proverbs 9:1-6 (NRSV)
This saying is a proverb – it relates wisdom – but it is not biblical from the Book of Proverbs.
Of course, it refers to the difficulty of teaching someone. Sometimes we maintain our ignorance through sheer stubbornness! It is similar to the story of the man who resented the lessons his English teacher tried to instill. He stated later in life, “She tried to get me to read all those classics. I showed her – I haven’t picked up a book since!”
One of the stories I remember my pastor (Dr. Mouzon Biggs) telling was when he came upon a radio preacher while he was traveling in his car (this preacher was not Methodist). The preacher was telling his audience that the trouble with people today is that they are getting ahead of themselves through education. When referencing a pastor’s continuing education, he mockingly sneered, “I’m working on another degree!” He said this as if this were something to despise. Then he stated, “I thank God I’m ignorant! And I pray to God every day that I’ll get ignoranter still!”
I remember Dr. Biggs saying something along the lines of, “I bet he gets his prayer answered!”
When I worked on my doctorate, I felt that it had as much to do with endurance as it did the acquisition of wisdom. But there was something to be learned in the midst of all that reading and writing that was beyond words on a page. The innate lessons one learns from study are sometimes as important as the lessons themselves.
This week’s scripture reading comes a little early (it is taken from August 19’s reading) but we do so because we are featuring the blessing of the backpacks for students and teachers in worship this Sunday. Wisdom is personified in this reading and we imagine coming to her table as to a feast! I didn’t always think about learning in this way while growing up, but there were certainly times when that imagery was apropos.
Proverbs allows us to understand the sacred nature of learning. Knowledge is life-giving. It is often associated with light (as the light bulb representing an idea). Just as grace is available to all, wisdom is also seen as universally achievable if one is willing to come to the table.
As we begin a new school year, we are inviting all people to see wisdom in this unique light – as a gift from God for those willing to seek understanding!
Check out more of Sam’s blog articles at www.precedinggrace.blogspot.com.
Photo by “las - initially” via Flickr.com. Used under the Creative Commons license.