A global pandemic takes the lives of more than a million people nationwide. Wildfires scorch 500 square miles in New Mexico. The pumping of oil-production wastewater into fault lines deep underground causes earthquakes in Oklahoma. The stock market continues to plunge, refugees flee the violence of war and home-grown terrorists shoot shoppers in a grocery store and children in their classroom. No wonder we’re fearful!
How, then, are we to respond to the readings for this Sunday where we find the writer of the Book of Proverbs talking about “delight” and “play?”
It seems a strange contrast. The writer of Proverbs tells us the “wisdom of God” (hochma in Hebrew; sophia in Greek — both feminine nouns) was “poured forth, at the first, before the earth.” Wisdom speaks: “When the Lord established the heavens I was there … beside him as his craftsman, and I was his delight day by day, playing on the surface of his earth; and I found delight in the human race.”
So what happened? If we really believe that we are created in the image of a God who plays and finds delight in us, why is there such chaos in the world? Could it be that we have forgotten how to play? That natural and manmade disasters have robbed us of our ability to find delight in the human race?
Might our national depression be attributed, at least in part, to an increasing lack of trust? In our politicians? Our religious institutions? Our economy? Even in one another? Created in the image of a God who is community, could it be that we are diminished when we deny community with one another because, in so doing, we are, in fact, denying ourselves?
Scripture tells us that we are created in the image and likeness of our God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit — three persons in one God, each bound in love to, and outpouring of love for, the other. Do we believe this? Do we delight in love? Or are we more like narcissistic children who refuse to share their toys (earth, air and water) and have yet to learn to play well with others?
Van Benthem is a longtime pastoral minister in the diocese.