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September 2024

Sep

Choosing How We Shall Live

Uncommon Wisdom

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B

This week, the lectionary text features three different couplets from Proverbs 22, all of which point us toward how to engage wisdom-driven decision-making in our daily lives.

This week, the lectionary text features three different couplets from Proverbs 22, all of which point us toward how to engage wisdom-driven decision-making in our daily lives. You may have heard of data-driven decision-making that emphasizes research, fact-checking, surveys, and drawing on the perspectives of multiple trusted sources. Wisdom-driven decision-making emphasizes insight and discernment centered around God’s teachings about what makes a good life. And, in true Proverbs fashion, today’s text unsettles popular opinions while grounding us in divine wisdom for building the kin-dom of God on earth as it is in heaven.

You may have noticed that the graphics for this series emphasize wayfinding. Through the unifying image of a compass and the road signs each week, we’re inviting your congregation to engage in an understanding of wisdom not as step-by-step GPS instructions for living, but as a navigational tool that helps us find our way—if we choose to use it. And so, on this first of three weeks in the book of Proverbs, it’s important to help your congregants recognize that they have a choice to follow God’s wisdom. Proverbs is not a book of commands but a book of recommendations and signposts, ways of knowing if you are following the path of wisdom or not. Now, I’m not suggesting that you turn the whole service into a “choose your own adventure” experience. But this might be a good time to incorporate one or two questions for reflection and meditation after the sermon.

  • Do these proverbs make you feel intimidated or empowered to choose to live according to God’s uncommon wisdom?
  • What would it mean for you to pattern your life after these proverbs?
  • What do the proverbs tell you will happen in your life if you follow the way of wisdom?

These are hard questions, but important for people to honestly assess as individuals and as a community.

Consider, too, how to incorporate the uncommon-ness of these couplets into the liturgy for today. What might it mean for us to call one another to the unusual practice of eschewing socioeconomic status and choosing to empower poor, rich, and everyone in between as equals? Perhaps the prayer of confession needs to emphasize the calamities we have sown as a result of our unjust actions. Or maybe the benediction can bless us to be generous to the poor and afflicted so that we might work with God in pleading for their cause. Find whatever will work in your context to breathe life into these proverbs as guidance and wisdom for our lives here and now.

Dr. Lisa Hancock, Director of Worship Arts Ministries, served as an organist and music minister in United Methodist congregations in the Northwest Texas and North Texas Annual Conferences, as well as the New Day Amani/Upendo house churches in Dallas. After receiving her Master of Sacred Music and Master of Theological Studies from Perkins School of Theology, Lisa earned her PhD in Religious Studies from Southern Methodist University wherein she researched and wrote on the doctrine of Christ, disability, and atonement.

In This Series...


Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes