I thought I would offer an update where I am in my doctoral studies through Western Theological Seminary. I completed the first unit and have begun the second unit as of the first of this year. There are two units in each academic year. I had forgotten the rigors of academia and the need to stay ahead of your deadlines, so I was rushing near the end of unit one to get all the work in on time. I am off to a good start in unit two, and at this time I am carefully reading the book of Proverbs. (What scholars call a close reading) My goal in unit two is to see what the wisdom literature of the Old Testament and New Testament has to say about older age. I also am looking for any statements in the Bible that reflect what is portrayed as being the ethical use of one’s time particularly during what we think of as being the pre-retirement and active retirement years.
What I have discovered so far is the teaching that there is wisdom to be found in just listening to one’s parents and grandparents. I was remembering as I read the opening chapters of Proverbs about when I was a boy and young man, and my parents would offer advice. Sometimes some saying related to a problem I was having, or because of the trouble I was in, and I recalled how I would hear what my parents said (at least the words they said). It wasn’t till I was much older that I realized they often had pretty good advice. If I had done more than just hear them, but really listened and then acted on their advice, I could have saved myself a lot of trouble. It wasn’t that I wasn’t listening at the time – I just didn’t give their advice the importance it deserved. I also have been reading about how Proverbs represents wisdom itself as being a woman who is seeking any who would listen and learn from her. This aspect of Proverbs has really grabbed my attention. By personifying wisdom in this way, the writer of Proverbs makes wisdom come alive and becomes more relatable.
I have been asking church members if they remember ever hearing a sermon that was based on a passage from Proverbs. As yet no one has said they could definitely remember such an occasion. I will keep trying. Next, I will ask some of the other pastors I know if they remember ever using Proverbs for a sermon topic.
More to come,