Another Sunday and we gathered around the table exchanging smiles and good mornings, and breathing the smell of coffee. Mid-smile we opened in prayer. And then came the “homework” check — the weekly check-in. Last week we looked to share a Proverb with someone, be it in a text message, through social media, in a face-to-face or phone conversation or even in a hand-written card.
There were a variety of experiences — from seeming silence to a Proverb offered over FB engaging the current congressional tax bill — to a perfectly timed opportunity to reach out to someone grieving a recent loss — to a perfect little note of encouragement to a friend struggling right now. There was joy in being able to accomplish the homework early & honestly about not having the reminder soon enough to help success be possible! And a note too that in the reading of Proverbs the ability to hear God’s wisdom for OTHER PEOPLE — and the humility of recognizing perhaps using our scripture in this way as chastising weaponry was not the aim nor spirit of the homework assignment (it was not!).
And then we read Proverbs 10:11-13,
The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.
Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.
On the lips of one who has understanding wisdom is found, but a rod is for the back of one who lacks sense.
First noticed was the consideration of the rod — is it real? Metaphorical? There was brief conversation on discipline/spanking/beating — mention of “spare the rod – spoil the child” and the named feeling that these are no longer appropriate topics — no longer socially acceptable. (This would easily be another conversation as well as potentially an entire study to see what God has to say on discipline — what it looks like, how to do it….but that is for another day!) Nevertheless there was conversation too about a judgement of sorts for those who are without sense/who act without understanding — and yet, who judges and does not Christ take that beating for us all in his journey to the cross?
As we heard the scripture in 3 different translations it was noticed how one of the translations had mentioned how violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked. A striking (& useful) imagery. And then the question came about verse 12 — but does love really cover all offenses? And we briefly began this conversation — which THANKS BE TO GOD — came near the end because it opened our homework invitation!
(HOMEWORK) This week the invitation is to consider one Proverb and if it is true or not. THERE IS NO (1) RIGHT ANSWER that I expect everyone to find & believe. And to be honest, if everyone says the exact same thing this will again be our homework the next week (yes I did say that yesterday!). We are considering Proverbs 10:12 (Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.) And we are answering for ourselves — Does love cover all offences? If NO — why not? If YES — practically how?
To give some warning — I think this will be a rich (though challenging) conversation both with ourselves, with God & with each other. I am looking forward to hearing how God has been speaking to each of us though this one Proverb! May there be space to breathe & hear from the Creator of the world & giver of life for each of us this week!
In love ~
Rev. Sabrina Slater