Summary: We all need the kind of wisdom that comes from God
Wisdom is Like Grits
School is out. "No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks..." I heard the last
day of school at South Central was marked by screaming, yelling and cheering, bells, whistles,
cartwheels in the halls...and that was the TEACHERS! I am not here to talk to graduates today or
even to reflect on the end of another school year, but if I were, I could not choose a better subject
for my remarks than the lectionary reading for today - wisdom:
Today is Trinity Sunday, the one Sunday in the entire year set aside to focus on, not an important
event, but an important doctrine. A confusing doctrine? From some people I’ve talked to, it
appears to be. The late Cardinal Cushing said that, when he was a parish priest, he was
summoned to a store to give last rites to a man who had collapsed. Following the custom of his
church, he knelt by the man and asked, "Do you believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God
the Holy Spirit?" Then, the Cardinal said, the man roused a little, opened one eye, and said,
"Here I am dying and you ask me a riddle?" For some the concept does seem to be a riddle. How
can this work? The best way I can explain it is to use H2O.
You have ice, water, and steam. What is ice? Frozen water. What is steam? Water in vapor form.
Water is, well, water in liquid form. . They are all H2O, just in different forms. So I like to say
that God is ice, Jesus is water, and the Holy Spirit is steam. All three the same, just in a different
So how did the church come up with this doctrine? It is not spelled out anywhere. Nowhere in
scripture do we even find the word TRINITY. But as we read and study the Bible, we meet God
in three persons...Father, Son, Spirit...each distinct, yet different. The church could have decided
that this means we deal with three different Gods, but further reflection said NO to that - just
ONE God whom we know in three different ways. It was a WISE conclusion. That is probably
one of the reasons the church chose its Old Testament reading from Proverbs on this Trinity
Sunday, part of the so-called WISDOM literature. This took WISDOM.
Now we must realize that intelligence is not the same as wisdom. Let me explain it this way: A
minister, a Boy Scout, and a computer expert were the only passengers on a small plane. The
pilot came back to the cabin and said that the plane was going down but there were only three
parachutes and four people. The pilot added, “I should have one of he parachutes because I have
a wife and three small children.” So he took one and jumped. The computer whiz said, “I should
have one of the parachutes because I am the smartest man in the world and everyone needs me.”
So he took one and jumped. The minister turned to the Boy Scout and with a sad smile said,
“You are young and I have lived a rich life, so you take the remaining parachute, and I’ll go
down with the plane.” The boy Scout said, “Relax, Pastor, the smartest man in the world just
picked up my knapsack and jumped out!
At this point I think it would be a good idea to define just what we mean by wisdom. Webster’s
defines it as understanding what is true, right or lasting. Good judgment. Wisdom is more than a
high IQ. Around here we call it common sense or horse sense. In the original language of the
Bible, wisdom was understood as skill. The word that we translate as wisdom described the
ability of craftsmen and seasoned mariners. They were thought of as wise or skilled in their
abilities. Counselors and administrators were judged by the skill they exhibited in their advice.
Auto maker Henry Ford asked electrical genius Charlie Steinmetz to build the generators for his
factory. One day the generators ground to a halt, and the repairmen couldn’t find the problem. So
Ford called Steinmetz, who tinkered with the machines for a few hours and then threw the
switch. The generators came to life—but Ford got a bill for $10,000 from Steinmetz. The
tightfisted car maker screamed about the bill being so high.
Steinmetz’s reply: For tinkering with the generators, $10. For knowing where to tinker, $9,990.
Ford paid the bill.
I remember when I went to camp years ago. We had fun. We played softball, went swimming,
canoeing, played basketball, tennis, had campfires, basically we had fun. Parents sent kids to
camp to have fun, and maybe ,more importantly, to give parents a break from their kids.