Sermon / Pr. Ted Giese / Trinity Sunday May 22nd 2016 - / Proverbs 8: 1-4, 22-31/ The Wisdom of God
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese / May 22nd 2016 / Trinity Sunday, Proverbs 8: 1-4, 22-31.
Does not wisdom call?
Does not understanding raise her voice?
On the heights beside the way,
at the crossroads she takes her stand;
beside the gates in front of the town,
at the entrance of the portals she cries aloud:
“To you, O men, I call,
and my cry is to the children of man.
“The LORD possessed me at the beginning of his work,
the first of his acts of old.
Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.
Before the mountains had been shaped,
before the hills, I was brought forth,
before he had made the earth with its fields,
or the first of the dust of the world.
When he established the heavens, I was there;
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
when he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,
when he assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
then I was beside him, like a master workman,
and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always,
rejoicing in his inhabited world
and delighting in the children of man.
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. Have you ever heard someone say, or said it yourself, "well if they can figure out how to put a man on the moon they should surely be able to figure out how to ..." fill in the blanks whatever that thing might be. Of course putting a man on the moon isn't all that easy and back when they were first doing it they didn't even have e-mail or the internet of smart phones. Plus there were thousands of complicated, challenging, and dangerous things that the engineers and builders of the rockets and spacecrafts, with their various modules, had to consider which required great wisdom. One small problem could equal death. In 1970 the Apollo 13 crew, who were supposed to be the third crew of men to land on the moon, were forced to abandon their objective and nearly didn't make it back at all.
"It looks to me that we are venting something." reported Commander Lovell to NASA, "We're venting something out into space. It's a gas of some sort." What was the problem? Hadn't everything checked out? Hadn't everything checked out before liftoff? Hadn't everything been checked, double checked, triple checked?
"The series of events that led to Apollo 13’s life-and-death drama began five years earlier with a simple design change to the Apollo spacecraft.
During flight, the systems aboard the command and service modules were designed to operate at 28 volts. In 1965, however, it became clear that during pre-flight tests at the Kennedy Space Center, 65 volts would be used. That year, engineers at North American directed that the craft's electrical components be redesigned to accept both levels of voltage. But one crucial participant never got word of the change.
Within the service module were two tanks of liquid oxygen. Oxygen from these tanks was used not only for the astronauts to breathe, but to help run three fuel cells that provided electrical power to run the command ship's many systems. [And] inside each oxygen tank was a thermostat which, along with a heater, was used to regulate the temperature inside the tank. It was the manufacturer of this thermostat that never learned of the need to accept 65 volts of electricity.
All things being equal, that might not have been a problem. In fact, the oxygen tanks used on all previous Apollo missions had flown without trouble. But the Number 2 oxygen tank aboard Apollo 13 did have a slightly tarnished history.
In October 1968, the Number 2 tank eventually used on Apollo 13 [mission] was at the North American Aviation plant in Downey, California. There, technicians who were handling the tank accidentally dropped it about two inches. After testing the tank, they concluded the incident hadn't caused any detectable damage.
The dropped tank was eventually cleared for flight and installed in Apollo 13. The tank passed all of its routine prelaunch tests." However in the end it still required a little jerry-rigging after technicians had trouble empty the tank following the Countdown Demonstration Test prior to liftoff, so "when the fan inside the Number 2 tank, [was switched on; the fan designed to mix the liquid oxygen and give a more accurate indication of how much liquid oxygen was left in the tank] when this fan was turned on, way out there in space, [some] damaged wiring [connected to the internal thermostat] caused a spark, starting a fire inside the oxygen tank," and with a muffled bang both it and the number 1 oxygen tank failed, causing a chain reaction, loss of electricity, loss of lighting and water. About 200,000 miles from Earth an emergency warning light flickered, and then those famous words were spoken, "Houston, we have a problem." After six agonizing days and some clever engineering the crew was able to make sufficient repairs and slash down, returning to earth on April 17th 1970. The crews of the Space Shuttle Challenger (1986) and the Space Shuttle Columbia (2003) were not so lucky, the engineering disasters that they experienced were fatal.
While very few people ever design or build anything like a space shuttle, booster rocket or spacecraft, on a small scale each person who constructs something, builds something, each person who even just goes to cut something (from fabric to fiberglass, to a nice piece of Douglas Fir) knows that it is wise to “Measure twice, and cut once.” To check, double check, triple check everything before proceeding. Were the builders and engineers of Apollo 13 foolish? Was their wisdom limited? They clearly didn’t see their particular trouble coming! How could they? They'd never experienced anything like it before.
“Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.” Wisdom is the same sort of thing, for us (for you, for me) we gain wisdom through experience and/or through the experience of others, like when the Apollo 13 mission is used as an example to students studying to be engineers so that they will be careful to check, double check, triple check all their details and then still be prepared for the unexpected. This is not so with God: God does not receive Wisdom through experience, Proverbs 8 tells us that Wisdom was possessed by God from the beginning; there was never a time when God was without Wisdom.
What is Wisdom? For you and I, it's just a part of who we are, we either lack it or have it: it's like intellect or patience or sportsmanship, for us wisdom is like a quality of our character and while it is a part of us it is an ever developing thing, if you lack wisdom now you may gain it latter! Is this what it's like for God? I want you to listen to this passage from First Corinthians, St. Paul writes the Corinthian Christians saying, “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
[St. Paul continues,] Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ [is] the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
Did you hear it? Christ is what? Saint Paul says, "Christ is the power of God and the Wisdom of God." Proverbs 8 says, “The LORD possessed [Wisdom] at the beginning of His work”
This passage from Proverbs tell us that before Jesus was a carpenter, before He was born, before He was in the womb of the Virgin Mary, He was the Pre-Incarnate Craftsman of Creation. King Solomon in Proverbs maps out the same sort of description of the Pre-Incarnate Christ as we see the Apostle John do in the beginning of the Gospel of John, when John writes, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.” So we see here how Proverbs 8 says the same thing from a different angle.
God, the LORD, had already possessed Wisdom “at the beginning of His way.” [Again] note that this phrase does not refer to the beginning of Wisdom. [Wisdom] is [the One] speaking [here] – and [Wisdom] has no beginning. Rather, it refers to the beginning of God’s activities in relation to His creation, which does have a beginning (Gen 1:1). But unlike us God is wise before He experiences anything. This is, in part true, because generally speaking the experience of God is different than the experience of man. Being Omni-Present, being all present everywhere means being present before, after and during every moment of time. Jesus says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega ... Who is and Who was and Who is to come, the Almighty,” “the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” The book of Hebrews says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Paradoxically in His perfect obedience Christ Jesus set this aside in the time between His conception and His death upon the cross so that He could truly be tested and tempted in our place, and where we are found wanting He, in perfection, was found righteous and perfect in all things, qualities now given as a gift to each of us in Him.
So today you can add another name by which you know Jesus. Jesus is the Wisdom of God; just as He is “Immanuel” (which means, God with us), just as He is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,” just as He is the "Bread of Life" and the "Life of the World." He said “I am the Light of the world.”  “I am the Good Shepherd.” “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” The Prophet Isaiah in the Old Testament says that Jesus will be called “Wonderful Counselor” and “Mighty God,” that He will be called the “Prince of Peace.” The second person of the Holy Trinity has many names but He is one person: “For the Father is one person, the Son is another, and the Holy Spirit is another.” Jesus is the second person of the Holy Trinity. He is Wisdom and all things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. Jesus is Wisdom.
Proverbs 8 shows God the Father and God the Son, together joyfully side by side as They make all things together. Jesus says “When He established the heavens, I was there;” The Holy Spirit was also there when all things were being made: in Genesis we hear how “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” Father, Son and Holy Spirit all there together: with equal glory, coeternal, uncreated, infinite and Almighty, such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit, One God now and forever. Amen!
What does this mean for us today? Right now, right here? It means that Jesus was in the beginning “rejoicing in [the] inhabited world” which He and His Father and the Holy Spirit had made, it means that the same Jesus who hung on the cross and died for all mankind was before the fall into sin simply pleased with Adam and Eve. It means that God desired and desires always to restore this world broken by sin; He desired and desires to restore the broken children of Adam and Eve, so that in eternity we can joyfully live together in that original perfection and God can once again delight in the children of men unabated by sin, un-hindered by hardship and tears and sickness and trouble. The God who promises to do this is the same God we find in Proverbs 8, The God who promises to do this is Wisdom; The God who promises to do this is Christ Jesus.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit won't abandon us when we are paralyzed with fear, when we are caught in our sin, when we stand in the face of a destruction of our own making, when a sin that looks to all the world as small as a single spark sets off a series of deadly events threatening to devour us in flames; no Jesus the second person of the Trinity is there with you in the wake of Adams fall into sin. He's there when our sin is revealed to us, when our foolishness becomes obvious, when our human wisdom fails us, when we turn to Him and say, "Huston we have a problem!" When we turn to Him and say "I a poor miserable sinner ... need your forgiveness, help me! Rescue me!" He rescues you with His life’s blood which was shed for you at the cross. If you feel lost, if you feel like an Apollo 13 astronaut trapped 200,000 miles from Earth, He is with you, and because He is with you it makes no matter how poorly you feel or how foolish you've become, the salvation He has won is for you ... even if the World condemns it as foolish, as some today say, it is not, because Scripture teaches, and we as Christians confess, that it was the Wisdom of God that saved you: Christ Jesus your Lord. 'For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. It is the Wisdom of God.' Amen.
Let us pray: "Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Jim Banke, Senior Producer, Cape Canaveral Bureau, April 13, 2000 space.com
 "Houston we've had a problem here." http://history.nasa.gov/SP-350/ch-13-1.html
Comedian Steven Wright (b. 1955)
1 Corinthians 1:18-25
Proverbs: Concordia Commentary, Andrew E. Steinmann, Concordia Publishing House, 2009. Pg. 206-207.
Lutheran Service Book, Concordia Publishing House, 2006. Pg 319.