The readings from Sirach end this week in this year’s cycle. Interesting. First, recall that Sirach (also titled, Ecclesiasticus) is not included in Protestant bibles. No, it was excluded, along with other Old Testament books, by Luther and the Reformers whose framework for all things theological was Sola Scriptura. That is, believers were to rely only Holy Scripture to understand God’s will for us, to know Jesus and His message for us. But Sola Scriptura based theology is theology in opposition to the Catholic Church, not to God’s Word. God’s revelation is holy, wholly, infinite and found in Creation, in the Church, and in the Word.
That Sirach is not considered part of God’s Word means that entire generations of believers are deaf to the what the Spirit may be saying to them and the world through Sirach. Generations that include believers today, here, in this country.
I find the mixture of these contextual facts so interesting – first and foremost the fact that Sirach was being read during a time in our country when Wisdom seemed to elude the politicians, the pundits, and the people.
With all that has taken place in our country in the past weeks – unemployment numbers that stagger, national debt that gets deeper by the second, tenuous foreign relations, the natural disaster that hit the eastern part of the country and the shifts in the political ideology of the electorate surfaced by the national, state and local election results – its a wonder that God could get a word in edgewise.
But He did if you were listening.
I didn’t hear myself praying these verses, rather I heard them being prayed by many I know who have been so distraught by the election results. Those who believe they witnessed for the first time in their lifetime a seismic shift that has forever altered the landscape of this country and impaired its ability to live into and offer to future generations a citizens’ life grounded first in Him and secondarily in the country’s founding principles.
The Spirit took me to an image of these folks gathered together to pray to the Most High, stepping back from a shared anxiety that the world they know has unalterably changed to seek God’s wisdom for how they shall then now live in this changed world.
But it hasn’t changed. God’s world hasn’t. The Word hasn’t. The country may have. But the world, the universe, the creation hasn’t changed and this prayer that the Israelites prayed is ‘proof text’, if you will – that God IS in everything, that the world IS His, now and forever.
22 And now bless the God of all,
who everywhere works great wonders,
who fosters our growth from birth,
and deals with us according to his mercy.
23 May he give us* gladness of heart,
and may there be peace in our* days
in Israel, as in the days of old.
24 May he entrust to us his mercy,
and may he deliver us in our* days!
May he give us gladness of heart. In His time. And His time is now. The Spirit speaks to us now, assures us, now, gives us pause to know that all is well. The world is His. Not changed. His. Now and forever more.