“For learning about wisdom and instruction, for understanding words of insight, for gaining instruction in wise dealing, righteousness, justice, and equity; to teach shrewdness to the simple, knowledge and prudence to the young— let the wise also hear and gain in learning, and the discerning acquire skill, to understand a proverb and a figure, the words of the wise and their riddles.” (Proverbs 1:2-6 NRSV)
The people I know have been on an adventure of learning something new; though not always willingly. How to engage with alien technology. How to help children capture patience and imagination with teachers, parents and friends. How to balance family budgets that were already strained, or how to have supper when groceries are difficult, restaurants impossible, and new menus beyond imagining. How to work and play when neither is like it had been.
Learning doesn’t occur only in schools. And schools do more than teach, as important as teaching is. Returning will be different, and a welcome reminder of the familiar. We’ve learned a lot about schools.
The technology and the details are new; the challenge is ancient. “For learning about wisdom and instruction…,” Ecclesiastes began, almost three millennia past. So what have we gained through these months? What apart from masks, Zoom meetings or new ways to cook hamburger?
We’ve learned new ways to visit and learn and help, for everyone offers help and needs some, as well. Most of us have imparted a little wisdom to younger folks and collected a lot of knowledge from them. We’ve reconnected with a friend on the other end of a phone conversation and heard delight when we call. We’ve learned new appreciation for people and things. Especially for people.
We’ve even learned new ways to listen for God, for there has been time for reading, contemplation, and prayer. Nonetheless, we yearn to return to familiar, holy gathering; to join in singing, praise, and prayer; to share The Lord’s Supper. We’ve listened for God’s voice and whispered God’s praise in new places, but want to be in God’s house
We have become skilled, these quiet days, in listening for God’s voice. We also know more – appreciate more – about the days and ways and places where we return, some bright Sunday morning: slowly, carefully, in ways that protect our beloved brothers and sisters from danger. Consider, as you gather with God’s people, how much more you know. Especially how much more you know that you missed them.
So let us pray: Almighty God. We hear your holy voice in the thunder of the storm, in the whisper of the breeze on quiet mornings, and in the dark hours of the night. Help us to know The Holy Spirit, closer than our own breath, in times of joy, fear, and sorrow. Guide us as we return in safety to prayer and praise in your Holy House, joining once again with our brothers and sisters in Christ. As we return to church, help us know that we are never separated from You, who lives and reigns always in our hearts, One God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each day and forever.