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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Upper Room Liturgy: Celebrating Holy Wisdom - Calling Forth the Inner Mystic

Mary Theresa Streck, ARCWP, and Lindy Sanford, ARCWP, led the Upper Room Community’s Sunday liturgy with the theme: “Celebrating Holy Wisdom: Calling Forth the Inner Mystic.” 

Holy Wisdom is a beautiful feminine metaphor for the Holy One. The readings reflect the theme and are listed below along with Mary Theresa’s homily starter.

First Reading: Wisdom by Elizabeth Johnson

In relating to God, people need more than parental models, which, if used exclusively can place them in the role of children rather than responsible adults. In addition to the ideas of God as a life-giving and nourishing mother, …one of the most important (metaphors) centers on the figure of wisdom.

Long-neglected text in the biblical wisdom writings feature Sophia, Holy Wisdom, a divine figure of power and might. She shouts in the marketplace and at the city gates in the most unladylike manner, calling people to grow up, stop hurting each other, and walk in her path of justice. Playing in the world at creation, leading the Hebrew slaves over the deep waters of the Red Sea, sending her spirit as a blessing throughout the earth, spreading a banquet in which all are invited to partake, prevailing against evil, she is Israel's God in female imagery. Indeed her promise "Whoever finds me finds life” (Prov. 8:35) could be made by no one else.

From Abounding in Kindness, Chapter 9: God of Life in Feminist Liberation Theology, p. 146.

Responsorial Psalm: 139 Sung by Kathryn Christian

Second Reading: A reading from the Hebrew Scriptures, the book of Wisdom (6:9-18)

I speak, then, to you who hold power over the people,
that you may learn wisdom and not be led astray;
those who remain holy and walk the way of holiness
will be regarded as holy,
and those who have learned the lessons of justice
will be able to defend themselves upon examination.
So give this your full attention:
desire this lesson and you will learn it.
Wisdom shines brightly and never fades.
She is seen by those who love her
and is found by those who seek Her.
She reveals herself
to all who desire to know Her
and those who rise early to search for Her
will not grow weary of the journey,
for they will find Her seated at the door of their own homes.
To ponder Her is the fullness of Wisdom
and to be loyal in Her pursuit
is the shortcut to freedom from care.
She searches the far ends of the earth
for those who are worthy of Her,
and she appears to them on their daily path with kindness,
meeting them halfway in all their journeys.
The true meaning of Wisdom is the desire to learn,
and to be passionate about learning is to love Her.
The love of wisdom means keeping her laws at all times.

Homily starter by Mary Theresa Streck:

Historians tell us that reformations happen about every 500 years and that we are currently in the throws of the next reformation. The difference now, writes Krista Tippett in her new book, Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living, is that this “new reformation is happening in all of our institutions at once – political, educational, economic, and religious.” And, she writes, “The interesting and challenging thing about this moment is that we know the old forms aren’t working. But we can’t see the new forms. We are making them up in ‘real time’” (p.2).

Carolyn Myss, in her book, Entering the Castle, refers to this time of change as the second great mystical renaissance that has been brewing for decades because we are asking significant questions that are bringing the Divine Presence, Holy Wisdom, the Holy One into direct contact with our souls. We are asking: “For what purpose have I been born? What is my spiritual path? How can I receive clear guidance?” (p.19).  Myss considers these questions to be spiritual invocations, invitations for the Holy Wisdom to come closer. And she says, when the Holy One hears them, she does exactly that.

In our second reading today from the Book of Wisdom, the Hebrew mystic and author provides clear spiritual direction. First of all: Seek the Holy One, for “She is seen by those who love her and is found by those who seek her. She reveals herself to all who desire to know her.”  What wise words. Awaken. Begin a spiritual path with a desire to know the Holy One. And the Holy One hears and responds.

I love Psalm 139. I love the way the author invites us into an intimate conversation with the Holy One. This ancient mystic must have cultivated a spiritual practice that began with that initial seeking and eventually led to this intimate exchange with the Beloved. We are listening in on “soul talk” – this luminous soul is one with the Holy One.

In the first reading, we are given a clear picture of what happens when we seek and find Holy Wisdom.  Life changes and this can be a bit scary. Our feet are compelled to follow her – to become the adult, to stop hurting each other, and to walk in the Holy One’s path of justice. 

So, given the fact that we are in the throws of a new reformation and the second great mystical renaissance, what are we going to do to activate our inner mystic? What practices will ignite our souls to become more compassionate, loving and forgiving? What practices are we willing to explore?

The mystics and visionaries who have gone before us tell us what worked for them. And we might begin there by seeking their good advice. But, we need to find out what will work for us in our time and begin somewhere. “For what we practice, we become" (Tippett). We are in uncharted territory, and now more than ever, we need to seek Holy Wisdom to activate our inner mystic.

What do you think?

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