Rev. Larry E. Schultz conducts the Chancel Choir, orchestra, and congregation of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, Raleigh, North Carolina, in singing “Come Now, O Wisdom” to a familiar hymn tune, with pictures from various artists.
Wisdom is the central divine symbol in this song. Wisdom is certainly not a new image of divinity, although She may seem new to us. The Hebrew Scriptures record Wisdom’s saying, “From everlasting I was firmly set, from the beginning, before earth came into being” (Proverbs 8:23). But Divine Wisdom has for the most part been stifled, demeaned, or ignored for centuries. Wisdom is a female name for God in the Bible. Wisdom is Hokmah in Hebrew Scripture and Sophia in the Greek language of Christian Scripture. Divine Wisdom symbolizes creative, redemptive, and healing power.
Many years ago I preached a sermon with this introduction: “What ever happened to Wisdom? In all my years growing up in Sunday school and church I never heard of God as Wisdom. I never heard God referred to as ‘She,’ even though the Bible uses Wisdom as a feminine personification of God. In much of human history Wisdom has been sadly missing. Instead of Wisdom, we have had injustice. Instead of Wisdom, we have had wars. Instead of Wisdom, we have had hierarchy and greed. Instead of inclusive images of Deity that affirm all human beings as created in the divine image, we have had exclusive images that devalue half of humanity—females. We need a faith that includes worship of feminine Wisdom so that there will be justice for females and for all human beings. Without Wisdom we all suffer. Wisdom brings power for change. She leads us on paths of peace. She is better than gold or any wealth or approval. In a world of divisions and brokenness, wars and violence, Wisdom can bring peace and wholeness.”
In the years since I preached this sermon, much of my ministry and writing have been focused on seeking Wisdom. In our world today with increasing violence against women and others considered “less than,” increasing violence of all kinds, and increasing injustices, I am more convinced than ever that we are in deep need of Her peace and healing.
This video invites hope of peace, justice, wholeness, freedom, and new life. The book of Proverbs confirms the blessings of Divine Wisdom: “Happy are those who find wisdom, and those who get understanding, for her income is better than silver, and her revenue better than bold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. . . . Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called happy” (Proverbs 3:13-15, 17-18).Come now, O Wisdom, we need your clear voice; speak and awaken our hearts to rejoice. Gracious Creator of more than we know, in your own image may we ever grow. Come now, O Wisdom, abide in our souls; stir in us visions of life free and whole. Wisdom, our pathway to justice and peace, with you our dreams find their fullest release. Wisdom, more precious than rubies or gold, with you our graces forever unfold. No fame or fortune with you can compare; pour out your blessings so rich and so rare. Wisdom, your grace joins all heaven and earth, with you we labor, new life to give birth. Come now, O Wisdom, our Midwife and Friend, open our hearts to your world without end.
Words © Jann Aldredge-Clanton, from Inclusive Hymns for Liberating Christians (Eakin Press, 2006. For permissions, contact: www.jannaldredgeclanton.com. For additional inclusive music for all ages, see: http://www.jannaldredgeclanton.com/music.php.
Performed by: Chancel Choir of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, Raleigh, North Carolina (http://www.pullen.org/). Conductor: Rev. Larry E. Schultz
Rev. Dr. Angela Yarber: “Sarasvati” © Angela Yarber. Used with permission. http://angelayarber.wordpress.com/artist/
Mary Plaster: “Sophia, Divine Wisdom” © 2003 Mary Plaster. Used with permission. http://www.maryplaster.com/mary.html
Rev. Stacy Boorn: “Dancing after Work at ‘Speak I’m Listening,’” “In Praise of Balloon,” “Monterey in Pink” © Stacy Boorn. Used with permission. http://stacy.awegallery.com/; http://www.awegallery.com/index.php?page=artists&aid=1
Mirta Toledo: “Sophia” © 2003 Mirta Toledo, http://www.afrolatinart.com/#/mirta- toledo/4532396991; http://www.jannaldredgeclanton.com/books.php#book3
David Clanton: photos of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church Chancel Choir, Orchestra, & Congregation; and dancing children © David M. Clanton. Used with permission. http://www.davidclanton.com/; http://david-clanton.artistwebsites.com/
Recorded by: Ward Productions, Pinehurst, North Carolina