Proverbs 1: 20-31 Mark 8:27-36
There then is wisdom.
Above the din of the market place, Above the cries of those selling exotic foods and excellent wines, Above the voices of those seeking to persuade, lure and entice, Above the noise of distraction and the whispers of temptation, Above the clamour of the inner fears and anxieties we all share at the start of a new adventure. Above even the jangling thrill of excitement and anticipation, and the glittering promises of ‘freedom, at last;’ ….
Above it all: the voice of wisdom calls out to us. In the squares, in the library, the corridors, the classrooms, the halls of residence, the students’ union, the bars, she raises her voice. At the busiest corners she cries out;
“Give heed to me. I will pour out my thoughts to you; I will make my words known to you. Listen to me.” Listen to me….
And so we find ourselves here today, at the beginning. Of another year? Yes. But not the same year as last. That cannot be. No. We have a new beginning before us. A starting afresh. A breaking open of new possibilities; The crossing of new horizons The becoming something else; someone different. Someone more. More ‘fully ourselves.’ Someone on the long journey of transformation towards the future. Someone on an adventure!
But, what ambition drives you? Whose voice calls you? Who are you? Who do you people say that you are? Who do you say you want to become?
The question of who exactly Jesus is, of course, is one that is riven throughout the four gospels, and beyond. It’s a question that tumbles down the centuries, blown along by a playful spirit; carried along down the road that leads from far away Jerusalem, all the way to the path that brings us here today. ‘Who do you say that I am? he asks.’ And people sought, people seek, the answer. The ‘one’ answer. The one ‘correct’ answer, we imagine. And many have been glad to supply it, for those happy to accept answers at second hand…
But the wise amongst you will know that there are myriad answers. Myriad answers – and one full lifetime of rich opportunity and exploration. Such an adventure to be had! A lifetime’s worth of seeking the answers that best enliven you; A lifetime’s worth of following the voice that calls you ever on.
Now the call of wisdom: ‘Listen to me,’ and the lure of Jesus: ‘who do you say I am’? are challenges we are keen to address in this place.
But we are minded too, that the call to wisdom, the call to follow, the call to serve is not for ourselves alone. Nor can it ever be. “Those who want to save their life will lose it, says Jesus, asking more: For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?”
He said all this quite openly.
And we here say quite openly that what this place stands for is to persuade, lure and entice you to discover yourself; to encourage you to like and cherish yourself (and that can be hard!); to enable and equip you to become more yourself; to fill you with hope and endeavour in caring and compassion for your neighbours near and far; to teach you to learn from the world around us and to value all life: without exception. To give you the imagination and courage to draw close to wisdom and to listen hard: for wisdom is so elusive; to challenge and inspire you to be the difference the world needs; to urge you to follow and to encounter the one who calls. In brief: to empower you to dare the impossible: for life demands nothing less!
Well now, that’s quite some challenge. We’d better get started! You coming?