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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Your goodly land we seek, with peace and plenty blest,
a land of sacred liberty and Sabbath rest.
There milk and honey flow, and oil and wine abound,
and trees of life forever grow with your mercy crowned.

You have eternal life implanted in the soul;
your love shall be our strength and stay, while ages roll.
We praise you, living God! We praise your holy name:
the first, the last, beyond all thought, and still the same!

Moses Maimonides’s “The God of Abraham Praise" (tune: Leoni)
trans. Thomas Olivers
from Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal

Growing up in rural Kentucky, I was surrounded by farmland and landowners. Though my family did not own or work the land, I became familiar with the kinds of things farmers would regularly talk about. Having a livelihood much more directly dependent upon the land and what it produced than I did, my neighbors seemed to me to have a keen sense of the interconnectedness of things. They recognized that the crops, the land, the water, the soil, and the air all matter to one another. They knew that the way we eat and drink, how we sow our land and get food to our tables, and how we treat the laborers of the land all matter in relation to each other.

There is wisdom in this knowledge. Drawing on those passages from scripture in which wisdom has to do with how we relate to the natural world, the author of this verse knows that everything, even our survival, well depends on our awareness of and care for the interconnectedness of all things. This hymn verse reminds me of the personification of wisdom in the book of Proverbs, in which Lady Wisdom says.

The Lord created me at the beginning of his work,
the first of his acts of long ago.
Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
. . . when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
then I was beside him, like a master worker;
and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always,
rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the human race.

That wisdom has been with God from the time God made the world should give us a clue about how indispensable wisdom is to sustaining and managing God’s cosmic household.

We are lucky that the wisdom we need is accessible to all of us. It is available everywhere we see connections among the things in God’s created order. We don’t have to look far. We just have to take the time to look. When we do take the time to marvel at the order, design, and interconnectedness of all things, we will likely find ourselves all the wiser for it.

Great God, we give you heartfelt thanks for your wondrous creation and for the wisdom it engenders in us. Make us a wise people who, today and every day, sing of your wondrous works. Amen.

Written by Joyce Shin, Associate Pastor for Congregational Life

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